teaching frugality

My grandfather never carried a wallet.

Instead, to the great embarrassment of his kids, he used rubber bands wrapped around his bills and credit cards. He would say: “Why do I need to spend money on a wallet? Rubber bands are fine.”

And he was right, of course—wallets are expensive, bulky, and, as it turns out, fairly transitory. While purses for men and women have been a staple since antiquity, wallets didn’t come into fashion until paper money become popular in the 1690s, and the kind that we use today with credit card slots didn’t pop up until the 1950s.

And looking at changing ways we pay for things (online, cell phones) I suspect our kids will not be carrying wallets when they’re our age.

So let’s hear it for my grandpa. He was frugal and ahead of his time.

Our kids are savvy enough to know that money doesn’t grow on trees (it comes from ATMs, duh), but how do we instill financial values?

First, the start of the school year is a wonderful time to encourage savings and responsibility. Even the smallest allowances teach that saving can lead to great rewards (once they get over the instant gratification phase). My daughter Hannah is saving up for a 3D Doodler Pen right now, which is a hand held 3D printing pen/machine that she is DYING to get. While it’s quite a luxury, I am thrilled that she is (a) interested in the art and mechanics of 3d printing; and (b) that she is willing to save for it.

I also want to share a great website that has sensible milestones and activities tied to financial awareness for our kids. It’s called Money As You Grow. It segments milestones and activities by age and is worth looking at!

We try to instill these values of savings and frugality at Right At School, as I’m sure you do at home. And while my kids don’t have to be embarrassed by my pulling out a rubber band wallet at the store, they do have to deal with my twenty-five cent binder clip wallet!