So, you’ve decided to live more frugally? Maybe you need to save money for a goal, like continuing education, a wedding, or buying a car or house. Maybe the change is out of necessity: you and your partner need to adjust your lifestyle. Or maybe the depressed state of the economy has you thinking that you’d like to be more prepared for emergencies with a larger savings account. No matter what the reason, this site is filled with great tips and ideas on how to do it, and do it well. You can make your changes big or small to fit your needs and get the impact you want.
But there’s one problem, right? Your family. After all, you can decide to live frugally in your own little bubble and do just fine, but when you add a spouse and children to the picture, things change. So here’s your guide to getting everyone on the same page.
Your partner is absolutely the first person you should discuss this decision with. There’s nothing wrong with using your friends or family as a sounding board for your money-saving ideas; but if you’re talking about making some big lifestyle changes, the person you’re sharing your life with should be the first to know.
Approach your partner in a loving, diplomatic way, for example, “I really feel like we need to cut back on spending a little. It’ll help with (whatever your money issue is). I was thinking we could…” and list your ideas. Don’t attack your partner with, “You’re always spending too much!” or treat them like a child with “I’ve decided you only get $5 for lunch”. You both need to be on the same team.
The way you approach this with your kids depends entirely on their age, of course. But if your changes are going to have a big affect on a child’s routine, you should make an age-appropriate explanation even to a very young child. If you used to stop at a restaurant every day after school for a snack and now you need to discontinue that tradition, your child should know why. If you don’t tell them, they will imagine all sorts of reasons that are probably much more horrible, such as you being angry at them or not loving them as much anymore.
I believe that older children should get a full explanation, including the reason for the lifestyle change, such as, “You know that we have always rented our house. And that means that sometimes we can’t do what we want with our home, like paint walls and make repairs. So we’re working on saving for a house of our own. But that means we’re going to have to be more careful about how we spend our money.”
Then explain the specific changes you have in mind. But giving your kids a real explanation will help them feel like part of the team and you may get less resistance. Plus they’ll have a very positive example of money management skills when you follow through with your savings goal.
Try Baby Steps…
Plan number one for lifestyle changes is to make small, incremental changes over time. Let’s take going out to eat as an example. Maybe right now you’re going out to eat four nights a week, and you’d like to reduce that to once a week or less. Get out your calendar and plot a slow reduction in eating out, perhaps cutting one night out every week or two.
This gives you and your family time to adjust. Making the change in baby steps works well when you’re thinking of a lasting change. Easing into your new lifestyle over a few weeks or months isn’t so bad when you plan to maintain it for years.
…or Go Cold Turkey
Many of us don’t have a choice in how we adjust to a more frugal lifestyle: when you lose your job, you have to give up a lot of things cold turkey. And really, this can work just as well; for some, it works better. Just be prepared for more of a backlash from your family as well as yourself. When you have to put on the brakes so quickly, it can cause some upheaval.
Getting your family on board with a more frugal lifestyle isn’t such a hard thing. It may take some discussion and compromise, but once everyone is on the same page, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish. Don’t make frugality something that puts a rift in your family; let it be a goal you can work towards together.
Category: Frugal Living