As with any lifestyle choice, frugality will be learned by your children as they observe your behavior -- your spending habits, your attitude towards money, and the way you give old items a second life. Passing on frugality to the next generation can either be a natural, organic happening, or it can be a conscious decision (or it can be a combination of the two). Wondering how you can make sure your children turn out as frugal as you? Try some of these intentional ideas.
Introduce money management from an early age. Some families start handing out a small allowance as early as five or six, and although this may not seem like much, you can really do a lot of damage against bad money management skills. Introduce a system in which your child receives a set amount of money ($5 isn't a bad sum to start with) and then must save a portion of it, while another portion can go into a fund they can spend at any time. (Religious families may want to introduce a portion for tithing as well.)
Don't emphasize material possessions; put the focus on experiences. One simple way to do this is to request not new items for birthday and Christmas gifts, but opportunities to go out and experience something new with your family. This may be a gift certificate to a theme park, or a sum of money you then set aside for a backpacking trip later in the year. Give your children movie tickets or zoo passes for gifts for their holiday experiences.
Set a good example with your own spending. Involve your children in such financial processes as grocery shopping and furniture-buying. Although they may not grasp the intricacies of spending money, if your own habits are frugal ones, they will gradually pick up the behavior and transfer it almost unconsciously into their own lives and money habits. (This blogger, for example, knows how to get more groceries for her money than anyone she knows, thanks to her mother involving her in grocery shopping trips from a young age!)
Make money a topic, but not the focus, of family discussions. Some families make the mistake of never talking about money; they make finances into a taboo subject in the household. This actually encourages unhealthy behavior towards money -- youngsters learn to fear it rather than control it, and this can lead to it controlling them. Talk about money and financial situations, but don't make it a focus or an obsession.
Frugal and healthy habits are easy to integrate into your life! Visit our home page for more ideas.