Last week I did a guest post at Heavenly Homemakers. The article was 3 Reasons to Kiss the Joneses Goodbye. In the comments section, a mother shared how she and her husband are in ministry together and they were wondering if their kids would grow up to resent the fact that they couldn’t pay for college, buy them cars, or get them the latest and greatest.
I think she was wondering if kids might just be the victims of our simple living and frugal homes.
I guess in some ways I feel qualified to answer this question. I grew up in a ministry home. I lived 10 years as a missionary kid in Lae, Papua New Guinea. Then we moved to Canada where my dad worked at a small Christian high school.
Now I’m in ministry too. So I’ve experienced these things as a kid and as a parent.
Sometimes my parents tell me how we had difficult financial seasons when we were missionaries. Know what? I had no idea. I don’t know how my parents dressed me in comparison to other kids. I don’t know if I had more or less toys than my friends. I don’t remember any of that. I guess at least I wasn’t scarred by growing up in a ministry home.
Giving kids what’s most important is more important that giving kids what they want.
Without a Doubt, Kids are Blessed by Their Frugal Homes
Frugality, as I defined it here, is:
- A decision to live on less than you make
- A commitment to exchange time for saving
- Reducing excess
Thus, frugality is nothing more than focused spending. Frugal families focus their spending so they can achieve valuable family goals.
My wife does not work outside the home. We decided we wanted her to be a stay at home mom.
What our kids (without a vote) gave up was access to more expensive games, toys, and such. However, what they gained was a close and intimate relationship with their mother. Moreover, they get to spend more quality time with mommy and daddy both, because we don’t feel the burden to work more, to earn more, nor buy more.
I honestly can’t imagine how we’d raise three kids if my wife worked. Life would be so hurried, demanding, and stressful.
I guess we could buy our kids nicer things if I’d just go out and get a good paying corporate job. But usually more money comes by the means of more time. Promotions rarely come to those who leave at quitting time every day.
Keep your big paycheck.
I’d rather do God’s work and have time for my family.
True, other parents may criticize you if your kids wear second hand clothes or cloth diapers. But, I can almost guarantee that young children will not. One thing I’ve learned living overseas is that ‘normal’ is defined by your environment.
I believe that as kids grow up, they’ll want to know that their mommy and daddy made a difference in the world. They’ll be proud to know that their parents did the best they could with the resources they had.
I’ve never seen a kid spoiled by having too much time with their parents, but I’ve seen a bunch of sour grapes who got everything they ever wanted.
Side note: Give Them Freedom When They Get Older
Right now my kids are 5, 3, and 1, so take the following with a grain of salt.
I do think kids should not be forced to live frugally when they are old enough to make independent spending decisions with their own money.
The reason is simple. What is extravagant to one person might not be to another. If my daughter wants to spend $60 for a haircut when she’s older, I don’t think I should stop her (if it’s her money). Personally, I’d never pay that for anything to do with my hair. She, on the other hand, might judge some of my spending as extravagant.
I think once we’ve molded our kids in the younger years, we should give them freedom to become who they want (financially) – even if that’s different than how we choose to live our lives.
Are kid the victims or victors in frugal homes? If you were raised in a frugal home, do you have regrets or not?
Transforming Your Financial Diet: 7 Steps to Simple Living and Generous Giving is only available for three more days. You won’t be able to buy a copy after that. Get your copy now.