Have you noticed that being frugal sounds like a good idea, but when you have a family it is more of a headache than anything?
Oh, believe me, I’m there with you. I’ll do all of this research and come up with some great ways to save money only to be met by whiney voices that want to know why I’m turning life upside down because it is interfering with their life/plans.
Yep, that’s my crew. I love them, but they lack team spirit sometimes when I’m trying to get our family on a better financial path.
But instead of fighting them tooth and nail and dragging them behind me on my frugal journey with their heels digging deeper into the dirt, I’ve learned that there are a few things that can be done to make the frugal lifestyle a group effort rather than a single effort.
A Frugal Family – How Can It Be Done?
Here are my thoughts:
1. Have a Plan
First things first, you must have a plan. If you begin doing random things to save money with no rhyme, reason, or consistency, then your family is going to look at you like you’ve lost your mind again instead of being the organized money saving machine that you think you are becoming.
So make sure that before you do anything, you get your thoughts and actions together and on paper. Then know how you are going to implement those thoughts and actions into a lifestyle.
2. Have a Chat
Next, you need to take the bull by the horns. This part is not going to sound very loving, but it must be done. You need to sit the family down and explain what you are doing and why. Hear out their moans and cries of concerns about their life as they know it, because they will probably swear it is ending.
But then you have to meet those same cries and moans with a matter-of-fact attitude. For instance, when I announced that I was considering giving up regular Wifi for a hot spot just to power my laptop, so I could save $100 per month, but still have a way to work, I was met with quite a bit of hostility.
However, when I explained the goal and that (as parents) my husband and I were the ones paying the bill so this is what we needed to do, they suddenly got quiet. I think they were afraid I was going to suggest that they pay for their own wants, so they didn’t push the envelope very far with that conversation. Funny how working teenagers have no problem spending your money, but when it comes to their money they won’t spend it on anything! Yep, that’s the season of raising kids I’m in currently.
So basically, you need to share your goals with your family. Let them know why you are making sacrifices, ask for their support, and then stick to your guns. When they see you are serious about this, tunes will begin to change. At least in my experience, they have.
3. Make it a Game with Rewards
We are currently saving money to pay off the debt we unexpectedly accrued last year. Then we’d like to work towards paying off our new house earlier because we feel like that’s the wise thing to do.
But let’s get real, my kids could care less about our monthly bills or how long it takes to pay off a house. They don’t pay the bills, so why would they be concerned? And as long as they wake up to a roof over their head, they don’t care how long it takes to get it paid for.
So I had to introduce this in a way that would make my kids care and also teach them something in the process. Reality is, we aren’t born with the automatic instinct to manage our finances and manage them well. It is a skill that is taught.
Which is why I think it is important to be frugal as a family because not only do you save money, but you teach your children responsible money habits too.
So we’ve turned this into a game of sorts. My family loves the beach, but we haven’t been in a few years because life happens, and we haven’t been able to get away. We’ve told our kids we can go as soon as we can pay cash for the entire trip. A penny saved is a penny earned.
That is making real-life sense to them because there is an actual reward for them to work toward. To be frugal as a family, we all need goals to work towards. My goal is to pay off my house early. My kids’ short-term goal is to go to the beach.
However, when we reach our beach trip goal, we’ll have to set another reward out there to continue to spur everyone on our frugal journey.
4. Rotate Meal Prep
Food is a real hardship when you are trying to lead a frugal lifestyle. The reason why is because when you have to cook every meal and every snack every single day, it is enough to create burn out.
Consider creating a schedule where you rotate days for prepping and planning meals, to prevent burn out from cooking and prepping meals all the time. This will take some of the burdens off of one main person and allow some of the extra work that goes into leading a frugal lifestyle to be spread around.
5. Take Turns Organizing and Taking Inventory
The next big chore of leading the frugal lifestyle is to utilize every little thing that you already have available to you. This will save you a bundle on grocery shopping.
But to take advantage of what you already have in your cupboards, you have to know what’s there. This requires organization and also keeping an inventory sheet to see what you have on hand at all times.
So if you could rotate the task around every so often, again, it takes the extra load of saving money off of one single person and makes the pressure a little easier to bear.
6. Discuss Goals and Progress
If you want to keep your family fired up and ready to lead a frugal lifestyle, then you need to consider the idea of having regular family meetings. Just like you would if you were running a business, you’d get together and discuss the goals you have for your company and the progress being made.
Well, running a frugal family isn’t that different. You have goals you are working toward. You need to keep your family in the loop. In our family, we are working towards a cash-paid vacation.
But they also know we are working towards being debt free. So when we pay off a bill, we have a meeting and share the good news that another bill bit the dust.
Or if we are making significant strides towards our beach vacation (or even if we aren’t) then we share that news with the family as well to let everyone know where we stand. If you want to lead a frugal lifestyle and save money as a family, then the family needs to be on the same page and know how the plan is working.
7. Have Theme Nights
Years ago when my husband and I were just starting out, and our kids were small, we barely had two nickels to rub together.
But we never wanted our kids to feel like they had less of life just because mom and dad weren’t rolling in the dough.
We didn’t want to do what a lot of people around us were doing, which was living way beyond their means to give their kids a luxurious lifestyle they simply couldn’t afford.
So we kept the fun going at our house by creating a routine of theme nights. The kids looked forward to this every week. We’d have certain nights of the week that we’d have a game night. We’d fix certain (inexpensive) foods that were a big treat to our kids because it was food they enjoyed.
Then we’d play games all night long.
Other nights, we’d have a movie night. The night would start by making homemade pizzas (which were very cheap to make), we’d watch a movie that we already owned, and then we’d pop popcorn on the stove. Our kids really enjoyed it.
Finally, we are a homeschool family, so I like to encourage education. So we’d have certain days that I’d want to promote reading. I’d build a big fort in the middle of the living room out of sheets and chairs, and I’d make the kids some fun snacks and bring them a pile of books. We’d read all day and have a picnic in the fort. It was fun, made some excellent memories, and the kids didn’t care how much (or little) it cost.
So I encourage you, to create ‘theme’ nights or days in your home while you are embracing frugality as a family. This will keep the focus on something positive and that you look forward to instead of feeling as though you are being deprived of something.
8. Make Frugal a Fun Way of Life
Finally, I encourage you to look around for fun things to do in your community that doesn’t cost anything. My kids have developed the mentality over the years that you have to go and do things to have any fun.
But the problem is that doing those fun outings often cost a lot of money. That doesn’t jive with a frugal lifestyle.
So look around for fun, cheap or free things that you can enjoy as a family. That way you don’t feel like you are missing out on fun memories made doing different activities.
However, you aren’t busting your budget to have these outings either. Also, consider shopping around for good deals if there is a particular outing that you want to do that would typically cost a lot of money.
For instance, since we are a homeschool family, I take advantage of the homeschool discounts you get at a lot of places (like the zoo or aquarium) because they try to make it more affordable to take field trips to such sites.
So look around and see what great deals you can find and make your frugal life fun and exciting just without such a hefty price tag that a lot of families pay for entertainment.
Well, you now know my thoughts on turning your family into a frugal family with hopefully as little resistance as possible.
But I’m curious, are you a frugal family? If so, how did you reach that place? If you are struggling to get your family on board with the frugal life, what are some of your biggest struggles?
We’d love to hear from you, so leave us your thoughts in the space provided below.