Teaching Our Children Frugality

We have never had much money. There were times when we had to move light bulbs from one room to another because we couldn’t afford to buy them. We’ve lived on an income of $650/month while paying for our own deliveries of the babies. Frugality was essential for our existence!

frugal shopper

While we still don’t have extra each month, I often feel like we live an extravagant and luxurious lifestyle. Well, other people don’t see us that way, but compared to where we were before, I certainly do! But I have always wanted our children to learn to live frugally so they will have greater financial freedom in their lives.

How DOES one teach frugality?

Some of the things we’ve done are:

  • talk openly about how much we make and what amount of money has been budgeted for different items
  • do comparison shopping, with the children actually checking the prices on things
  • do almost all of our clothes shopping from second hand stores and THEN take them to regular retail stores to compare what they got vs. how much we paid
  • shop the dollar store for our family Christmas gifts (which, incidentally, makes for a very fun(ny) and abundant Christmas!)
  • shop garage sales for books and games – always mentioning how many MORE things they can afford with their allotted money or how they can now save for that special item while still getting something they want now

I loved it many years ago when my parents came to visit. My dad took each of my children out shopping to buy them a gift. One daughter wanted books and told my dad that if they bought them used online, he could spend way less money for her gift. My son decided he wanted an art supply kit. My dad found one for $40 at one store and my son said he could get the very same kit (with a few extra items) at a cheaper store for $15!

My father, having grown up in the Depression, was very impressed. It wasn’t that I was doing such a great job at anything. It was a necessity. We HAD to make these choices if we were going to purchase fun items. It has been a joy, however, to see this frugal mentality continue on with the children as they grow older.

Another daughter will not purchase any item of clothing for more than $10 – and THAT much hurts! But she has a marvelous sense of style and picks up the oddest items and turns them into a unique and chic fashion statement! When she shops retail, she’ll come home with $160 worth of clothes and will have spend $8!! She gets the shopping gene from my sisters, and her frugal-ness comes from me and from them (she just isn’t willing to spend quite as much as they are đŸ˜€ )!

How are YOU building the concept of being frugal into your children’s lives? How can YOU link financial freedom to spending less? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


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  1. It’s always so lovely when you see frugal traits in your kids! I love knowing that they “got” it. Both kids went to jr. college for two years in order to save money, and then transferred (or will transfer) to a four year to save money. Both got scholarships to help too!

    Thanks for hosting today.

  2. Hi Kate! Both my husband and I grew up in the province where life was really hard. They were a family of farmers while ours was in the meat business. We both experienced how to be wanting especially through college. I had experienced attending my classes without having lunch. It was that hard. But even now that we’re financially blessed because we work hard (except now that I’ve an illness), we still do our best to live by the virtues and practices we had growing up and we hand them down to our children.

  3. when I have my grandkids we always try and do a fun “make it-take it” project…This is a great way to spend time with them, teach them to be creative, use their hands AND then they have something they can give as a gift, or enjoy themselves. You could add the step of telling them how much it would have cost to “buy it” at the store. I also bake with them, and baking from scratch is so much cheaper than prepared foods…. again, show them the price tag, and at the same time enjoy spending the time with them and teaching them a valuable tool.

  4. I love this post, Kate. My kids have learned frugality from us and I find that now that the boys are working, they especially are seeing that they need to make their dollars stretch. I laughed so hard yesterday, because Emily stayed overnight at a friend’s house. The friends mother called me and said, “Do you know what the girls are doing?” “They are sitting at the table and clipping coupons!” This was a 13, 14 and 16 year old. lol Love it!

    Thanks for your wise words!

  5. Hi Kate…as a fellow frugalista, I love this post. And I sit here writing this comment in a pretty little sundress that I picked up for 50 cents at a garage sale! Thanks for sharing. Thanks for the link up, too. Blessings to you and yours…

  6. Kate,

    When I was in college, I complimented a classmate on her outfit. “You always wear the cutest clothes!” I said. “Where do you shop?” “At the Thrift Store,” she responded, and I’ve been shopping there ever since. I wear the nicest labels and NEVER regret the price I paid for anything. I don’t think I could pay $75 for a pair of jeans knowing that I could get them for $5 at “my favorite store.” Thanks for being transparent. I’m sure it will encourage many to try a thrift or consignment store if they haven’t yet. Blessings to you!

  7. Kate…We learned several years ago about being frugal and have encouraged our children to be the same. They have demonstrated frugality in the way they are with their monies. I agree that it is an important lesson we should pass onto our children. Thank you for the message and for the link up dear friend. Have a blessed week.

  8. Good timing on your article about teaching our kids frugality — my post this week is, “We Can’t Live on What We’ve Got,” a statement that many people, even very frugal ones, find themselves making — often to themselves because it’s awkward to say it aloud.

    But the first step is knowing we’re not alone, not weird, not degenerate to think this thought. And once you get past the artificial guilt of feeling like you’re bad for saying the statement — aloud or to yourself — you can get moving on the essential part — using what you have, wisely.


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