Tot Tuesday: How to Encourage Children to be Frugal

photo © 2009 Tim Samoff | more info (via: Wylio)

Tot Tuesday is a weekly feature where I highlight a special kids activity, frugal recipe for kids, kids tutorial, etc.

Today’s Tot Tuesday is a guest post by Miles Walker

A frugal value system tends to be a more minimalist lifestyle than most American kids experience these days, especially teenagers. But when you explain frugality to them, be sure to tell them that it’s “in” right now.

Kids Need Stuff—Up to a Point

Remember that old Barbie commercial that said, “Accessories sold separately?” Well, that’s the way it is with kids. They come with stuff. Some are necessities, like diapers and school books. Some are thrust upon them by the media.

Our consumerist culture is set up to push the newest, shiniest gadget. If no one bought the newest iPod or video game, this part of society would grind to a halt. Combine this factor with peer pressure, and parents have an uphill battle when attempting to instill frugality in their kids.

Step #1: Limit Media Exposure

This is the most important of all the steps. Your frugal, minimalist mission will be hopeless unless you can undercut the barrage of brainwashing that says, “Kids gotta have this!”

Step #2: Turn off the Electronic Devices

Although computers and the Internet are an integral part of modern life, too much of either isn’t healthy – and a dependence on them is very worrying. Encourage your kids to turn off their pet devices and go outside, and use their imaginations in a way that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Step #3: Make Frugality a Family Project

Talk to relatives tactfully, and explain that your kids enjoy reading and drawing: “It’s amazing. He has the talent of a true artist.” Make sure they understand that simple gifts are preferred, and that you appreciate their generousness.

Step #4: Establish a Network of Frugality-Minded Families

Junior is less likely to groan about the Xbox he didn’t get if he has friends who like to shoot hoops and play chess. Having friends with similar values is an excellent buffer against the stigma of being different in school.

Step #5: Frugality is Fun!

Make a life of frugality the opposite of deprivation. Play games and cook with your kids. Go on day trips to discover your city and environs. Take them to live theater. If your family history involves farming, take the kids to a working farm or historical farm community. In short, substitute your own time and attention in the place of expensive toys.

Step #6: Be a Model of Frugal Behavior

Teach your kids what you know. If you’re an expert seamstress or baker or gardener, let them get their hands dirty while following your example.

Step #7: Be of Service

To combat the “Me, me, me” attitude kids are exposed to, do service as a family in a soup kitchen, a library or a park. Kids will be better prepared for the outside world, build self-esteem and probably appreciate their own lives more.

Living frugally definitely requires a more hands-on parenting style. But the rewards of seeing your kids enlivened and fully engaged in worthwhile pursuits may be worth it.

When he’s not reading about the latest auto news, Miles Walker looks at auto insurance comparisons over at CarinsuranceComparison.Org. His latest article reviewed car insurance Texas.

Are you interested in guest posting on Family Friendly Frugality? Please email me heather @

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Heather is the creator and owner of Family Friendly Frugality. She calls Texas home and is married to her best friend. With 2 children 22 months apart, she has her hands full. So full that she decided to start blogging as a hobby. That hobby blew up into a full time job. Now she's got the husband, the kids and the blog. We're not exactly sure what she was thinking, but she's too busy for us to ask. Find Me On Google +

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