A fun way to teach frugality

Column by Esther Macalady
Posted 2/5/20

“Cannot people realize how large an income is thrift?”  Cicero 106-43 BC Whether the virtue is called frugality, thriftiness, parsimony, prudence, or economy, this grandma has a fun way to …

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A fun way to teach frugality

Posted

“Cannot people realize how large an income is thrift?”  Cicero 106-43 BC

Whether the virtue is called frugality, thriftiness, parsimony, prudence, or economy, this grandma has a fun way to encourage it. Grandma Dee arranges for her grandchildren to go grocery shopping with her. 

Making the shopping list 

Grandma and the boys go around the house to check what is out of stock and pour over ads and prices to make a list. They divide the cost of foods by the weight in the package to find out the cost per unit. Are the house and generic brands cheaper?  Is the quality the same?  What about toilet paper and paper toweling?  Are they getting quality for their money?  Are there times when a better quality justifies paying more? They discuss the grocery ads and head to the store.

Purposeful Shopping

At the store each boy and Grandma have a cart and list including the item sizes. Shopping with a list reduces the amount of impulse buying. She tells them to carefully read packages and sizes on the list. Is the item 8 or 16 ounces? Sometimes they need to go back. 

Since they are now in middle school the boys estimate the total cost of the items in each cart and consolidate into cart when finished. The boys are sent out to find one food item they would like to add to the cart. They move to the checkout, help pack the bags of groceries, and load the car.  At home the boys unpack the goods and stock them in the correct place so grandma can find them again. They have had an adventure with grandma and really helped her out.

Does this afternoon help teach wise spending? Grandma is not lecturing about frugality, she is giving the kids opportunities to spend wisely and learn how to do it. Well, except for the food item at the end. That’s a toss-up.

Econ Lessons

Families can also teach economics by setting savings goals. By itself, a savings goal doesn’t sound like much of a way to be frugal. However, a goal, such as saving for a vacation or an item can be a way to get kids to see the benefits of saving money for other purposes and delaying gratification.

Families can teach the differences between a “want” and a “need.” Purchasing items like groceries are “needs.” Most other things are “wants.” 

Economists say taking time researching a product to find the best price and best reviews, translates into money saved that you don’t have to earn. This also helps plan for purchases and delay gratification.

Esther Macalady is a retired schoolteacher in Golden. For more see grandparentsteachtoo.blogspot.com and wnmufm.org/Learning Through the Seasons.

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