Wondering if frugal family living can work for you? Here’s how to make the frugal life work with your kids (without feeling deprived!).
Boy, did it feel good to step out of that car and stretch our legs.
That rest stop came at just the right time after a couple of hours of driving time.
And our kids couldn’t wait to get to the special treats they’d packed in their lunches that morning.
(Getting in a little kickball time before we had to hit the road again didn’t hurt either!)
While we are a frugal family, that doesn’t mean any of us have to feel deprived.
In fact, a lot of the things we do in daily life are simple enough.
And in the long run, things like stopping for a picnic lunch instead of drive thru kids meals saves us money, sure…
But it makes our lives richer in other ways, too!
(Extra time together, fresh air, and better health spring to mind.)
How Frugal Family Living Can Work For You
We have a family of 8, so frugal living is especially important to us.
But you don’t have to have a large family to save money in simple ways.
And if the idea of becoming a frugal family intimidates you, you can relax.
Because even if you only make a few small changes, you’ll love the impact that has on your loved ones!
What Is a Frugal Lifestyle?
Some people think a frugal lifestyle means depriving yourself of everything that makes you happy.
I’ve found that the total opposite is true!
Back in my early 20s I was newly married. I finally had my first “real” job as a teacher that came with a “real” paycheck.
Time to buy a brand new car!
My husband and I signed the papers, and I was off in a rush. I was running late for my side gig as a flute teacher, and couldn’t keep my students waiting.
(Why does buying a car always take hours???)
In my hurry, I didn’t see the car turning left…
…but I was able to slam the brakes hard enough to miss their car by one inch.
And that’s when I experienced something you’re probably familiar with…it’s called buyer’s remorse.
Here I had bought a brand new car with hardly any down payment, only to nearly crash it coming off of the car lot!
That story could easily have had a very different ending. One that involved making payments on a car I couldn’t even drive anymore.
Happily, what it did was made me realize that buying a new car was not as great as everyone claims.
That was the last brand new car that my husband and I owned (and probably will ever own).
How often do we do things because they look like fun…only to discover that we’ve been sold a lie?
These things cost us more than just money. They cost us freedom.
Because what you’d really like to do at the end of the day is go home and put your feet up for a while.
Instead, you have to work a second job to keep up with all your payments.
Or go home and crash on the couch, because you couldn’t sleep last night over worry about how you’ll keep up with everything.
Meanwhile, the big dreams we’ve had for our lives are slipping away with every bill we pay.
Living frugally means making a choice every time we buy something.
The choice is simple:
Does buying this thing add to the lifestyle I really want to lead?
Or does it take me further away from it?
Is buying a bigger house worth the extra years you’ll have to work to pay it off?
Some will say yes. Some will say no.
You have to decide what’s right for you.)
How To Be Frugal With Kids
You’d be surprised at how quickly your kids can get on board with living a frugal life if you give them a reason to do it.
Instead of saying “no” all the time, tell them in a positive way that if you skip the trip to the concession stand, you can save $5 towards the fun vacation they want to take!
The more you get them involved, the better it will go.
Not to mention the good habits you’re teaching them before they go out into the world.
None of us want our kids to have to learn how to save money the hard way!
How Do You Live Happy and Frugally?
Living a happy, frugal life doesn’t have to be tedious. Here are 10 super simple ideas to start you on your frugal family journey.
1. Eat Seasonally
Foods that are in season always taste better. They’ll also cost you less!
And you never know…you might find a new favorite food by shopping the sales!
2. Enjoy Your Space More
If you love what you already have, everything becomes less of a burden!
You won’t spend time wandering through Target wishing you could buy all the things…then bringing home more stuff that won’t make you any happier.
3. Have A Party!
Some of my favorite memories are times that I just invited friends over on a whim.
I give the house a quick clean, make a couple of appetizers (seriously, just put bacon and cream cheese together in a recipe and everyone’s happy!), and invite good people to hang out for a while.
Your friends will love you because you didn’t make them find a sitter.
Your kids will be excited to have friends over.
And you’ll find that it’s much better than going out and doing math while you split the bill.
(I can’t be the only math hater.)
Embrace scruffy hospitality.
4. Decorate With Pictures
We all have that room that we need to update with a new look.
Most people take tons of photos every day (now that we’re always carrying a camera in our pockets!).
You probably have some funny or beautiful pictures that are stuck in the cloud or on a memory card.
Get them out where they can be admired!
When I wanted to update my bathroom, I found a funny picture I had taken of my kids at a fall festival.
(The farm had set up an outhouse for a funny photo shoot with fake legs so you could stand behind it and look like you were going. I had one kid pretending to use the potty while three of them “anxiously” waited outside to pee. It’s very classy. ??)
I printed an 8×10 and put it into a clearance frame I found at the grocery store.
It makes us all happy to see it!
That way you don’t have time to forget about it.
5. Shop A Different Section
After I had our sixth baby, I needed a hoodie that would fit my new body size and shape.
So off to the mall I went, looking for a bargain.
(Yes, I frugally shopped at the mall! Believe it.)
I didn’t see any good bargains in the women’s section, so I gave up and headed out to the next store.
But I happened to leave through the men’s section. And that’s when I saw a rack of super soft and comfy men’s hoodies on clearance for something like $5!
The men’s size was a little big, but who doesn’t want to be hugged by a soft, warm hoodie that gives you some extra room??
I was thrilled with my bargain!
6. Drink Water
It’s not flashy, and everyone’s been telling you to do it for years.
But you still drink more pop (soda, Coke, insert your dialect here), coffee, energy drinks, flavored stuff, etc. than water.
Which is costing you money and health points.
So just switch to water.
7. Carry Cash
It doesn’t have to be a ton, but carrying cash will save you money.
It happens when you’re at a store that requires a $5 minimum purchase for using a credit card (and you only needed a loaf of bread).
Or the parking lot only takes cash…but you are free to use their ATM for a $7 fee!
8. Kids Activities
Let each kid do one activity at a time. Or one per year if you like.
You hate driving them all the time. They can barely keep up with school work and their tight schedule.
And you’re spending more money on activity fees than retirement. (Yikes!)
9. Go Outside
Being outside is a stress reliever.
Boredom, stress, sadness, and anger often trigger us to spend money.
The next time you feel the urge to do some online shopping, go outside instead.
Give yourself a good 15 minutes to improve your mood.
You can go on a walk, lie in a hammock, or just sit on your front steps.
This works for my 7 month old whenever she starts crying, and it always improves my mood, too.
10. Let It Go
Sing it with me!
Living a frugal life, especially as a frugal family, can be stressful if you let it.
Kids are always going to leave extra lights on and doors open.
(Even if they weren’t born in a barn.)
You aren’t going to make the most of everything every day, either.
Last week I made my easy pear bread recipe. When I was finished, I had every intention of using the leftover peels and cores to whip up some pear jelly.
Then I realized that I have 6 kids and a blog to run. ?♀️
There was a time in my life when making jelly was a frugal must.
But I’m just not in that place anymore.
And I had to make myself quit feeling guilty that I didn’t make the most out of what I had.
After all, three times that week I had come home to eat lunch instead of caving to the temptation of the drive thru.
That’s a win, folks!
You have to celebrate all the wins. And let go of the things you just can’t do.
Being a frugal family doesn’t mean depriving yourself of everything you enjoy.
In fact, embracing a simpler life intentionally can make everything better in ways you hadn’t imagined!
Besides, if we hadn’t stopped at a rest area, we would have missed the perplexed faces of our kids when they saw this antique phone…
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