As a father in a family of four, we are constantly finding ways to make money matters a family educational experience. Not only is it our responsibility to teach our children how to spend money, but it is important to teach them how to live fruitfully. It is always important to live within our means so we are not burdened by crushing debts.
Here are some practical tips from my family to yours when it comes to saving and spending money as a family unit. There is no need to make sacrifices, and instead you should just have priorities.
Finding creative ways to reduce our expenses is a family activity. First, my family looks at things we buy and finds ways to get them cheaper. That means shopping at different supermarkets to find sales, buying generic foods instead of name brands and using coupons.
Other ways to reduce our expenses include a reduction in driving and conserving utilities by using less water or electricity. Our house has a lot of light bulbs. We replaced them with compact fluorescents, but we still always try to keep lights out when we aren’t using them. My son even came up with an idea to remove some unnecessary light bulbs in light fixtures so we save money by not buying new light bulbs.
Cut Unnecessary Spending
Going out to eat is a luxury that my family does without unless absolutely necessary. We try to consume food we have at home first, unless we are traveling out of town.
My wife and I might also skimp on clothing for ourselves by going shopping at a secondhand store or just buying fewer clothes. Cutting back on alcohol, cigarettes, purses, more shoes and even pet supplies and puppy toys can also be ways to save on unnecessary expenses.
Debt Versus Savings
If we spend money on credit cards, we try to keep it as minimal as possible. Staying out of debt is mostly a matter of restraint, if there are no emergencies. Having a good credit rating is important, but you must be able to pay off debts in a timely manner in order to be in the good graces of credit agencies. Unless we have an emergency, we only spend minimally on credit and pay it off soon to avoid tons of interest charges.
We also try to save when we can. There’s always around a thousand dollars in our savings as an emergency fund in case something goes wrong with the car or we have unexpected medical expenses.
My wife and I choose to involve our kids in every aspect of the family finances. We explain why we spend what we do to our kids. We even have given them control of their own allowances by getting them a reloadable debit card in their names that my wife and I control. Our finances aren’t perfect, but passing lessons about money onto our kids is important to us.