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Set the standard for your family

By on August 16, 2008

mama duck
photo by Joshua Davis
It can be difficult to get your family on board with frugality. You’re never going to convince everyone that it’s as wonderful as you think it is. If you practice frugality in ways that upset and cause resentment, such as a family rule that everyone has to use less shampoo or drink diluted juice, it may cause increased resistance to change. You can simply lead by example, which can often encourage others around you to see the benefits of frugal living. Frugality shows you are goal-oriented and reach your goals. Your actions can help influence those of so many others, too.

The following are ways you can be frugal by example.

CLOTH NAPKINS: The switch from paper to cloth can influence others around you to follow suit. They make meals more elegant, and they last for years.

REUSING ITEMS: Reusing items can be contagious. When your family observes that you consistently reuse items, such as plastic and glass containers, they will begin to reuse them, too. My husband asks me regularly whether I plan to reuse household items. Having him on board means that my children are accustomed to seeing us reduce waste, so they are prone to being aware of items they can save to reuse, too.

UTILITIES: No one likes an electricity warden. Some family members want lights on or heat and air conditioning on, so if you’re constantly fighting the thermostat war, it might be time to exercise a little flexibility. In this case, it’s wise to show results, such as how much money you’ve saved, and encourage motivation by allowing family to enjoy the monetary benefits. As an example, you could enjoy a movie or family outing with the money saved.

CHANGE JARS: Announcing a goal for the saved money in your change jar will foster family savings, especially because they can see the savings growing. You can show your family that you skipped a soda and deposited the money into the change jar, instead. This will demonstrate that there are choices with money.

THRIFT STORES AND SECONDHAND SHOPPING: I’m always happy when I secondhand shop, and my family witnesses my joy over finding a bargain. This makes secondhand shopping a positive force in our household. Everyone around me listens as I brag about my steals and deals. I encourage others to join me whenever I shop, and I can be overheard carrying on and on about how insane people are to pay full price for some items. Don’t underestimate the power of your friends and family observing your happiness.

MAKING DO: Making do sends a clear message to everyone that you’re not keeping up with the Joneses. It also shows you appreciate what you have. It helps teach children patience and delayed gratification.

SIMPLIFY AND DECLUTTER: A simple home reflects your priorities. Others are able to see that you are more relaxed and in control. Simplifying is nothing more than getting rid of items you no longer use or need. Being selective about what enters your home shows everyone that you truly care about your surroundings. Showing that you are in control of your environment and that cleaning isn’t a huge chore is a positive way to be a role model so your family has more respect for your home. Family members are able to participate easily when everything has its place instead of spending entire days trying to clean the house.

There are many additional areas in which you can lead by example, such as coupon shopping, cooking at home and recycling, to name a few. You might feel alone in your efforts sometimes, but your actions speak louder than words. Initially, your family might be reluctant to jump aboard with frugality, but, in time, they may follow your lead, so don’t give up. Even if they never come on board, at least you are, and even your effort alone makes a difference.

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About Sara Noel

Sara Noel owns Castalia Coffee Roasting Company, Follow me on Twitter

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