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?
Living a frugal lifestyle means that you make careful choices about how you’ll exchange your time for goods or services.
It’s deciding that 5 minutes of time and effort to pack sandwiches (using ingredients you already have) is worth saving $30 at the drive thru.
Or taking a couple of hours to read through reviews before buying a new dishwasher.
Frugal living is never about choosing the cheapest option.
(That’s called being a cheapskate.)
Because people who live frugally have already discovered that there are plenty of times that the cheap thing costs you a lot more money in the long run.
(Except for when it doesn’t. Frugal folks know that there are times when the cheapest option is good enough.)
It’s about carefully weighing all of your choices before you chose to spend money.
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.
How amazing would it be if your kids learned money habits from you rather than the credit card companies?
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 (these chicken taquitos whip up in five minutes), 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. Try A New Budget
If the only budget you’ve ever done was written on a napkin and forgotten at the restaurant, it’s time to try something different.
And you can’t really live a frugal life without knowing where your money is all disappearing to.
6. 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!
7. 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.
8. Carry Cash
It doesn’t have to be a ton, but carrying cash will save you money.
Like 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!
Plenty of small businesses will give you a cash discount so they don’t have to pay the credit card fees.
9. Kids Activities
Let each kid do one activity at a time. Or one per year if you like.
After all, they can barely keep up with school work and their tight schedule.
And you’re spending more money on activity fees than retirement. (Yikes!)
10. 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.
Bonus 11. 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…haha!!
Do you love frugal living tips?? Can’t get enough??
Join the mailing list for more money saving ways!
How does your frugal family save money?