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Thursday, September 27, 2012

When you know your kids are finally "getting it"

My kids and frugality --

I sometimes wonder if my kids are getting the stewardship-of-resources-and-time bit. As they stand in the shower for ages, gawk for many minutes at the contents of the opened refrigerator, or, hold the back door to the house open, in the midst of winter, while talking with someone outside -- I just wonder, "are they getting it"?

Then one of them says something that makes me think, "finally, they understand how I feel about thoughtful use of our resources".

The other night, while talking about the weekend ahead, and shared use of the car, I mentioned to my son that the girls had tea this weekend. That means, they go up to our church and wash dishes for the elderly women who put on fund-raising teas once a month. (It's not all altruistic, however. They get fed a nice assortment of sandwiches, desserts and cocoa!)

Anyways, I mentioned this to my son, as I would be needing the one good car to take them the 35 minute round trip there, then again 35 minutes round trip to get them home later in the day. To this, my son replied, "perfect, I'm needing a haircut."

What does his haircut have to do with the girls' tea time work? The barber (yea! he no longer needs me to cut his hair -- that's a stress I'm glad to let go of) is just down the hill from our church.

His driving to the barber would entail a third 35 minute round trip drive, if he went separately. By his going this Saturday, he'll drop the girls off, get his haircut, then come home, saving one of the 35 minute trips that direction and back. Yea! He gets it! By arranging errands, we save gas.

I suppose our kids can't help but absorb our views, to some extent. We are constantly reminding them to turn off the water, shut the refrigerator, close the door, etc. Some kids do respond with "when I grow up, I'm going to be rich so I can do x-money-squandering-activity". But for the most part our kids do grow up internalizing our values. They may have a period of overspending when first adults. And they may express our values differently, choosing to economize in areas that had little importance to us, while spending where we had always been frugal. Or, they may be more or less extreme than we are. But there really is truth in the saying "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree".

I look at my own family. My parents were careful with their money in many areas, but had some areas where they spent less cautiously. Yet they were always responsible. My siblings and I grew up to be good stewards of our resources, as well. We each have different income levels, which allow more or less spending on non-necessities, on our parts. But none of us are dead-beats. We all work hard, make thoughtful choices, and live within our means.

To this day, I can hear my mom and dad's voices, saying "turn off the lights when you leave the room", "don't let the water run while you're brushing your teeth", and "you've got legs, you can walk there". As a kid I thought, "they're such fuddy-duddies". But now as an adult, I see the wisdom in their ways and sayings, every time I open the utility bill, or fill the car with gas -- I see their wisdom. And now, I get to see that my kids are getting that wisdom, too. They get it. Gas costs money, and money takes work to earn.

Yes, I think my kids are finally "getting it". If your kids have "gotten it", then celebrate -- you've done an awesome job! If it sometimes feels that your kids are not "getting it", give it time, explain the money equals work concept over and over, until you're blue in the face. Let them in on your family's money management process. Give them a way to earn money themselves for their "wants". It takes time.

I didn't always feel that my own kids were "getting it". My son has "gotten it", and I'm seeing signs that my daughters are in the process, as well. But not quite time for the hallelujahs, yet!


  1. My daughter gets it sometimes, lol. She brought me home a coupon for $3 off a haircut recently, but she still says she is going to eat out all the time when she grows up. lol

    It's so great to see when our children begin to understand that money does not grow on trees. Kudos to your son for combining errands. With the cost of gas nowadays he is wise to consider this.

    1. Belinda, you're doing a great job with your daughter. How nice that she found a coupon for Great Clips and brought it home. I can tell that she "gets it".

  2. I love this post!

    My son used to complain about going to Aldi to shop. He was adamant that if he was going to "give" a store his business they could at least bag the groceries. For more than 2 years I kept reminding him of the cost savings, etc. Now that he and daughter in law are buying their own groceries they always check Aldi first. They are young and still do fast food -- but only with coupons or

    Also since they are newly weds and both in college, everyone at family dinners wants to send home leftovers with them. Kind of cute, because once upon a time he was the king of do I have to eat that again. My how things change. Just the other day he told me, "I've learned not to turn down anything anybody offers you. It is nice to have bits and pieces already cooked and just have to round them out."

    1. Hi Shara,
      see all your hard work paid off! You did an fabulous job, and you can be proud of that! It is funny, though, how Aldi was a place he couldn't stand, but now it's his first stop. Oh my, how our attitudes change as we grow up!

  3. I've told my kids more that once, "Thank you for growing up." There were times when my kids were younger, that I wondered if they are ever going to "get it". They have always been good with money and resources, but organization has been their challenge. However, they're finally using all of the stuff I have taught them over the years. Once again, thank goodness.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      don't underestimate how much you taught them about stewardship of their money and resources. I don't think kids just come into the world knowing how to be good stewards. I think they learn by watching us. And you must've taught them early on. They just "got it" younger than some of our kids. And as with organization, you've done a great job! Some things we have to really drill into our kids heads, other things they pick up quickly.

  4. You've given me hope for my children (aged 10 & 6). Thanks, I'll keep up the nagging....

    1. Hi Jessica,
      Absolutely! I can remember when my son was about 9. He'd work really hard at all the chores on the chore chart, so he could earn the maximum amount of money. Then he'd take it all at the end of the week and blow every last penny on a Lego set at Target. His MO was earn and blow, earn and blow, for many years. I'm still working on some things with my daughters, like "turn that water off" and "close the door". But you're working on it and that's to be commended! You're doing great!

  5. My son (44)is very frugal. And, for so many years he complained about not getting this and that. Now, he has two kids and wife and home almost paid for.

    The younger daughter (37 today) proudly told me how she got an apartment after she graduated at 23 and had been teaching a year or so, moving from her father's house. She said she got a sectional, a floor model with a rip. She laughed that the rip was between sections. She also got a refrigerator with a scratch on the side that was against the cabinets. She also took furniture from other people. I was proud.

    However, I should nave not been surprised at her attitude. When she was sixteen she told me she had to eat before going to the mall. I asked her why. She said all the oher girls she would be with always had to eat in the food court. "I am not going to spend my money on expensive food when I can eat at home and Daddy pays for it."

    Middle child, girl (42)is not so frugal. Then, she got a divorce and ran herself in $32K credit card debt. She finally got it. But, I suspect from some snippets of conversation that she is not as frugal as the other two children.

    1. Hi Linda,
      I think you've done a great job as a role model for your kids, with your frugality. It's because you showed them alternative and frugal ways to provide for their needs that they've been able to make it financially. Okay, so middle child had a little bump in the road. But I'm guessing it's because of you as a role model that she has been able to start getting her life (and money) back on track.

      My siblings and I have different spending habits as well. I'm by far the thriftiest, but then I've had to be due to circumstances. But in the end, all three of us are good stewards of what's been given to us.

      If your kids haven't thanked you yet, for showing them how to manage, I'm sure they feel thankful inside. And I can tell that you are proud of them!

  6. When my eldest son left for military duty I watched him blow money, just because he could and thought he didn't get it. Instead, once he left he quit following the pack and now lives much more thrifty. Yes, for me they showed they had gotten it when they moved out on their own as adults and especially husbands and fathers.

    1. Hi Lois,
      you know, I think some kids/young adults, who've been raised in a frugal home, have a really strong desire to just see what it feels like to spend money without care. I think they need to prove to themselves that they really weren't missing anything all along.

      The tendency seems to be to think the lifestyle that someone else has is somehow better than our own, until we explore a bit and find out that it really isn't.

      But because you showed your sons how to live well on less, they had these tools within themselves to make wise choices, when the time came. It's no wonder they are good husbands and fathers, you did a great job with them!

  7. Haha this brings back memories :) When I was growing up my mum bought the cheapest orange juice that was 100% juice. I always said that when I grew up I would buy the fancy, not-from concentrate stuff.

    However, when I got a job I started buying my own orange juice, and couldn't believe I had to work for almost a whole hour to earn enough money for one carton.

    Now I don't even buy orange juice (although I am partial to smoothies!) and when I buy it for Mr Omnivore, I buy the cheapest 100% orange juice :)

    1. That's actually kind of funny. My mom bought the least expensive frozen concentrate, as well. I don't buy orange juice all that often now, but when I did, it was the frozen stuff, too. Now I prefer that we eat our oranges as whole oranges in season, not juice. I feel like we're missing out on nutrients and fiber when we just drink the juice. But that said, when I do buy any juice, it is oj -- by far the most nutritious of the common fruit juices.

  8. My parents were and are still very frugal, They have huge amounts of money tucked away but still balk at paying too much for things they like. They will both choose to wait for a sale.

    I am trying to do better in my own life :-)

    1. Hi Lisa,
      I think sometimes frugality takes a wrong turn, for whatever reasons. But it sounds like you are trying to strike a balance between being careful with your money and taking good care of yourself. It's all about thoughtful use of the money and resources given to you.


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