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Money-Saving Tips for Families

Written by:
Director of Education and Corporate Communications
money saving tips for families; man and woman with two young kids counting money with a piggy bank

Let’s be honest, kids are expensive. But they’re also smart. So, while they can be a financial drain with constant “buy me ____” requests, if you play your cards right they can be a huge part of helping you save money as a family. In fact, with the way technology is evolving these days, they may even be able to reach you a thing or two about saving!

With that in mind, here are five easy ways that you can get your children involved in helping the family save money and stay on budget.

5 ways to save money with the whole family

1. Teach kids how a budget works.

Many parents want to shelter their children from conversations about money. They may feel that it’s taboo or “too adult” for them to understand.

But teaching kids positive money habits early helps them develop these skills as they get older. That’s why it’s essential to start talking to your kids about personal finance at a young age.

Start simple by explaining what money is and how it works. Then have a discussion about how you make money and what your family uses money for.

Next, talk to your kids about what a budget is and why it’s necessary. Make sure to include why it’s important to save.

Then it’s time to give your kids room to experience these principles for themselves. An allowance is a good place to start.

Guide them as they use their allowance “income” to build a budget. Ask them how much they will save and if they want to give any money to charitable causes. Teaching kids the value of giving is another value you want to instill early in life.

For more information about teaching children about money, read our guide to budgeting for kids. You can also give them a copy of our booklet for children about spending (and saving) money wisely.

2. Ask kids to help find bargains and coupons.

Two ways to help your family save are bargain shopping and couponing. Bargain shopping means knowing when items will be on sale and couponing means finding store or company vouchers that lower prices on specific items.

Explain this to your children and ask them for help. You can describe it like a game: You have to hunt for clues in weekly circulars or online!

First, make a shopping list and share it with your kids. Then send them on a scavenger hunt to find coupons or sales that match up with the products on your list.

It’s a win-win-win situation: You save money, the kids have fun while learning about money, and they feel a sense of pride that they were entrusted with an important task.

Want some extra tips for saving on everyday expenses? Start with our booklets “Cutting Food Costs” and “Shop Smart and Save.”

3. Put emphasis on back-to-school and holiday saving.

School supplies and holiday gifts are big yearly expenses. When you shop during these times of the year, put a special emphasis on asking your kids for help.

This gives them the chance to work with larger budgets. They can get fun things they need for going back to school and get excited about giving gifts during the holidays.

For each occasion, give your kids a specific dollar amount that you’re willing to spend. Then take them to a store and set them loose.

When they find something they like, ask them how much it is and if it’s within their spending limit. If they start to go over their limit, ask them what they will do to reduce the overall cost.

Will they put something back? Will they exchange a more expensive item for a cheaper version? That’s for them to decide, as long as they don’t spend more than they’re supposed to.

Shopping like this will take longer than if you were doing it on your own. But just like getting kids involved in bargaining and couponing, getting them involved in back-to-school and holiday shopping teaches them about money while giving them a sense of responsibility.

TIP: If your kids want extra items for back to school that aren’t necessities, encourage them to save part of their allowance to purchase it before the school year starts.

4. Allow teens to manage their own money.

Teenagers are at an age where they can gain a deeper understanding of personal finance and how it works. This is a good time to give your children a larger allowance and more control over how they spend it.

Additionally, you can start teaching teens about credit. Begin with a checking account and debit card.

If they prove they can responsibly use a debit card, consider making them an authorized user on your credit card account. Be careful, though. If your teen overspends on the credit card, you are on the hook for that debt.

This guide can help you transition your teen to have more financial responsibility. Need some extra help? We talked to nineteen personal finance experts about teens and money.

5. Schedule money meetings.

Children, significant others, spouses, and even grandparents can join the household budgeting process. Have a family “money meeting” once per week to discuss general spending and plans for the next week.

Try to make it as fun as you can. Have snacks, watch a movie after, or make it into a game. If your kids are ready to start learning about budgeting on their own, give them a copy of our booklet for children about spending (and saving) money wisely.

Keep in mind that just because you talk with your family about the budget, it doesn’t mean everyone has to agree. The head(s) of the household will still have the final say!

Single parents can check out a money guide here, and couples can take a look at our guide to marriage and money.

Is debt harming your family’s finances? Connect with a certified credit counselor today.