Parents and Children Moving Away from the Jones’

27 04 2011

Featured in the  and on MilitaryAvenue.Com

The recent economic downturn has families thinking twice about their spending habits, especially when it comes to spending money on their children.  In today’s society, the role of daily consumption for parents and children include the constant increase of toys, electronics, clothing, eating out, etc.  The good news:  parents and their children do not have to keep up with the Jones’ (aka neighbors/friends).  All it takes is one family to start the “saving thread” and others may join this savings movement. 

When parents implement a positive financial plan, their children will notice and understand.  This plan includes, but is not limited to, spending less than you earn, living with a budget, saving for college expenses, paying down debt or simply paying yourself first.  Children are eager to learn from parents and they in turn might just teach other kids about positive money management behavior.

Today’s family can ignore keeping up with today’s trends in order to be satisfied or happy.  Families can achieve a perfect balance without the presence of money, or if need be, at a fraction of the cost!

  • Find your Tribe.  Team up with other families that share your money-saving views.  Strength in numbers is a powerful tool.  You will come to notice your children aren’t competing with their peers because everyone shares the same values.
  • Visit your Neighborhood Park.  The park is a great place to spend time free of charge!  Parents can turn the experience into a learning one – discuss animals and plants that are native to the area.  Or the importance of keeping the park clean for both wildlife and humans.
  • Picnic Lunches.  Plan a picnic lunch rather than purchase lunch at the drive-thru.  Encourage your kids to create menus.  Head to the supermarket for ingredients and discuss the various prices of items and how coupons lower the cost per item. 
  • Visit the Library.  Many community libraries lend out DVDs and CDs, in addition to books.  Also, your community library may offer reading classes and/or other programs geared towards younger children and teens.  Some other library might include the following programs: computer classes, resume building, environmental classes, etc.
  • Host Family Game Night.  When your budget does not have the flexibility to cover recreational expenses, such as going to the movie theater, families can still enjoy “fun” time together.  Why not host a family game night!  Grab a board game and snacks, invite friends and have them bring a potluck meal.  You can achieve the same amount of fun for more than ½ the price! 
  • Buy Used.  When the cash flow is slow, think about buying used items (electronics, bikes, clothing, etc.) in an effort to save money.  Buy used and save the difference.
  • Volunteering.  A great way to teach “giving” values is by volunteering time to charities.  Teens will learn the value of having a giving spirit, where emphasis is placed not on consumption, but rather contributing.
  • Clothes Swap.  Many teens want to keep up with the current clothing trends and that can become costly.  See if other families in your community would be interested in a clothes swap.

Parents and kids should not feel they have to keep up with the Jones’.  Emphasis should be placed on what fits their lifestyle and most importantly, their budget.  When families choose to live beyond their means a financial downturn will shuffle the family dynamic.  Choose to save your money rather than risk losing it all to keep up with the trends of others.

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