Kids Can Teach You To Be Frugal

Before marriage, the thought of having kids meant giving up on my savings goals and spending more money on activities and toys for them. I couldn’t have been more wrong. My children continue to teach me ways to save money and we even have fun doing it. If I knew my kids would challenge the way I thought about money, maybe I wouldn’t have waited so long to start a family. Well, maybe. First, raising children is not inexpensive. The cost of food, diapers, insurance, and daycare can be very expensive for families. But, children can lead you to find some wonderful money saving opportunities that you might have missed.

Some wonderful frugal opportunities for families:

Kids love to play in the park. Disneyland is fun, but public parks can offer some incredible opportunities for families to relax and enjoy nature. Bring a soccer ball or just play on the jungle gym. Kids need exercise too, and you don’t need to join an expensive gym for family exercise. If you visit your local park several times a week, you could save hundreds or thousands off a gym membership. Grab a stroller and start jogging to your local park.

Read to your children. Kids love to hear stories and your public library is probably your best frugal deal around. Get a free library card and start reading to your kids. Check your local library for special reading events and activities. The library has probably saved my family hundreds of dollars on books.

Mac and Cheese Please. Having kids actually improved our grocery budget. Instead of eating out several times a week, our kids enjoy the simple meals like mac and cheese and pizza. Making a healthy salad together as a family can also be a fun activity for the kids. Since the kids don’t enjoy sushi yet, we can save more money by eating at home. Homemade pizza is also a big hit with the kids as they enjoy selecting favorite toppings for the pie’s.

Game night. Grab one of your favorite games and take the time to teach your children how to play. If they are still young, try kid friendly versions of Yahtzee or Old Maid. If they are over 5 years old, you can teach them checkers or introduce some fun board games. Puzzles are also fun for kids of all ages.

Need a date night with your spouse? You can still go out on a date without breaking the bank. Offer to watch your friends kids one night of the week in exchange for them doing the same. A frugal date idea: rent a movie and make your wife her favorite meal at home. No parking issues, no tip for the waiter, and you can sneak treats into your home movie theater.

Start a savings fund together.
Before children I was fascinated with finding high growth technology companies that were poised to be the next Microsoft or Cisco. Now I still enjoy investing, but I gain far more joy finding ways to teach my children to save money for a special event. Maybe your kids would like a new baseball glove or a new pair of shoes. Start a savings fund for them and help them find ways to achieve that goal. Educate your children on the benefits of saving money and waiting to buy an item when they have cash in hand. Take the piggy bank to your local bank or roll your coins and allow them to see how much money they have saved.

My children have certainly taught me how to find more ways to live frugally and look for savings in ordinary things. To find more money saving ideas for your family, you can visit my blog The Passive Dad and share your frugal stories or how your children are challenging you to save money.

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  1. … until they reach puberty and all of a sudden will only wear brand names.
    But, at least with a family, enjoying each others company is free.

  2. Thanks for the comments, everyone. And thanks to Scott for putting together this article.

  3. When I was young, my parents had a jar where they threw all their pennies. It was an old mayo jar or something similar. When it got full, mom and I would sit down and count out the pennies and roll them to take to the bank.

    I was always infinitely thrilled by this process. Which goes to show just how cheaply you can entertain children!

  4. RB @ recessionsblow says:

    Great advice, I know that I personally could live off of mac and cheese if I didn’t know how bad it was for me. I do cut down on the butter and add extra 1% milk, still tastes just as good and isn’t as bad for you.

  5. Mr Plasectomy says:

    Ha, I would also like to add that they can force you to be frugal.

    Before we were on our journey to be debt free we had an experience with our first child.

    When my daughter was 14 months old, she is now 5, we went to a nice sit down Chinese restaurant. You know the atmosphere; dim lights, low music, nice plates, glasses, and absolutely no plastic anywhere. We sat down, had water served to us and not more than 5 minutes later……BANG BANG BANG. The sounds of their silverware crashing into the nice plates that were set before us. Needless to say we saved $40-$50 that night and opted for drive thru at Chik-Fil-A instead at a cost of $12.

  6. Trevor @ Financial Nut says:

    That’s great! Your kids actually helped you save money on food?! Amazing. 🙂

  7. Nate @ Debt-free Scholar says:

    Children often like the simple things of life. It is not until they get older that they are convinced that complex and expensive is better.

    Great post!