Saving isn’t always a fun thing to do, especially when you are trying to get the whole family involved. Saving often smacks of sacrifice, and that can be hard for children to understand. After all, the only thing they really know is that they aren’t getting what they want, and that they have to give up some fun things.
In order to turn things around for the whole family, it makes sense to look for ways to save that are fun for the whole family. Here are 5 ideas for making saving fun for the whole family:
1. Create a Family Goal Chart
First of all, it’s more fun for everyone when you feel as though you are working together. Create a goal chart that everyone in the family can use for reference. If you want to save a specific amount of money for a vacation or for some other goal, cut out pictures of that goal and use them to surround an amount marker. Everyone can look at the chart, and the kids can take turns coloring in the progress toward the goal.
2. Special Time with Each Child
If you want to save money on activities, you can create a rotating schedule for spending time individually with each child for part of the weekend. “Have one parent spend special time with one child for part of the weekend,” says Karen Cordaway, the frugal expert behind Money Saving Enthusiast. “The other family members can do something for free or just hang out at home. You can significantly reduce how much you spend taking the whole family out.”
As long as each child gets a turn with each parent in a rotation, this strategy can save money and even reduce the potential for sibling fighting while participating in activities.
3. Energy Savings Scavenger Hunt
Teach your children the importance of conserving energy by going on an energy savings scavenger hunt as a family. Look for energy leaks, and have your children help you identify problems. Talk about powering down items and using smart strips. You can also talk about turning out the lights when leaving the room and how to use less water when brushing your teeth or showering. Make it a fun game by looking at energy usage on your utility bill each month with your children. See how much you can reduce your usage, and track your progress in a way that lets the whole family get involved.
4. Make Free Memories
You might be surprised at how easy it is to save money on activities when you get creative about free things to do. Check to see what free concerts and events are held in your community. Set up a tent and go camping in your backyard. Put out a blanket on your family room floor and have an indoor picnic while you watch a movie rental from Redbox. Have a family game night or go for a bike ride. You can make it even more fun by creating an activity wheel. Have the children take turns spinning it when you are looking for something to do as a family. These memories last a long time and result in family cohesion.
5. Timed Money Hunt
“Play a game to see who can find the most money in 15 minutes,” suggests Cordaway. “Set a timer for 15 minutes and have everyone in the family start looking.” She says that you can look for spare change in couch cushions and other places, as well as look through old belongings for toys and other items that might be sold for extra money. Everyone brings their findings together to see who has found the most.
“Give the winner a special incentive that doesn’t cost any money,” says Cordaway. “It can be something like having all the other family members clean their room, or allowing them to skip their chores for one week.”
You can then use that money to save for your goal. When you make it a game and get everyone involved, you are far more likely to create positive experiences for your children, and the whole family will be happier.