Like a lot of families, we’ve had to cut back this past year and a half or so. Not that we were extravagant in the past, far from it. But like a lot of families, our income is down this year, and the need to save still more has hit pretty hard.
Really, it’s good for us. Even if you’re lucky enough to not have to cut back, it’s probably good for your family too.
1. More time playing as a family at home.
Family game nights have long been a good idea. When you don’t have the money to spend on going to the movies or taking vacations, they’re a good way to still have some family fun.
Games can be active too. Tag, hide and seek and so forth don’t have to just be for the kids.
2. You find out just how great deals can be at thrift stores.
This has been gaining in popularity as more people realize that great clothes and other things are available for low prices through thrift stores.
This can also help if you have kids who are really into trendy clothes. You probably won’t get the most trendy stuff, but you can often find the right names at thrift stores. If you find clothes that are clearly barely worn or even still have their tags on them, it’s a lesson on how much people can waste just on wardrobe.
There’s no rule saying kids have to have the trendiest clothes, after all. That can be a painful lesson for some people, especially if all their friends are really trendy, but it’s a great lesson to learn.
3. Gardening is good for you.
Especially organic gardening. Once things are going, you can earn back your investment in fresh, better than from the grocery store produce. Plus you get exercise working in the garden.
Try to get the whole family involved. My kids have an absolute obsession with planting seeds, most of which don’t come up because they start forgetting to water them.
Besides, it’s fun telling kids that yes, they may snack off the tomato vines, beans or peas. Having kids beg for something healthy is great.
Plus you can give great lessons in sharing by having the kids give the excess to neighbors.
4. Doing it yourself encourages creativity.
Whether it’s sewing, knitting, home repair, cooking, making play dough or other such things, it’s good to know how to do it yourself. Making things builds an appreciation for them. Kids especially love the feeling of knowing that they made something by themselves.
For example, I’ve promised my daughter that I’ll teach her some basic sewing this year. Not the sewing with yarn kits that she has done with her grand mother, real sewing. She’s really excited by the notion, especially since we might just haul out the sewing machine once we’ve done some basic hand sewing. It doesn’t really save money compared to thrift store shopping, but for the pride of “I made that!” it can’t be beat.
5. Simpler family outings can be a good thing.
Most of our family outings involve hiking, a wonderful free activity. It also helps to build an appreciation for nature. If you aren’t good at naming plants, try checking out a local nature guide from the library. You might be amazed at what grows wild in your area.
6. You can save a lot of money.
Some ways to cut back will cost extra at first, such as starting a garden, but in the long run should pay off.
It’s not always easy to cut back, but both financially and environmentally speaking it’s often a great choice. Keep in mind the differences between frugal, cheap and green, so that you can focus on which matters most to you.