Today we’ve got two questions from reader Suzanne!
Do you actually have separate accounts for all your expenses (clothing, vacation, electric, etc)? And if so, how big do you let the accounts get if you have over calculated how much say heating will be in a year.
Yup! At least, that’s true for the things that don’t get spent every month. For instance, I usually spend all of my grocery money, so I don’t have a separate account for that. Same goes for things like our mortgage, our Ting cell phone bill, and our $20/week date night budget.
But for things like vacations, home improvement, medical savings, clothing, auto repairs, and auto insurance (we pay once a year), I have separate online savings accounts. Those aren’t regular, predictable monthly expenses, so it makes sense to automatically funnel our budgeted money for each of those categories straight into the appropriate account.
That way, when our yearly car insurance bill comes due, we have the money for it. When an auto repair bill comes up, we can just transfer the money out of that account to pay the bill.
And when I go clothing shopping, I just transfer the money over to our checking account.
It IS a slightly clunkier method than doing a spreadsheet and virtually separating all the money into categories, but it’s simple and mostly hands-off, which is worth a lot to me.
I haven’t run into a huge problem with my savings accounts getting too large (that would be a lovely problem to have), but if we’re running low in one account, I will sometimes borrow from another account that’s not getting used as much.
For instance, our clothing account tends to get a little bigger than it needs to be, so I might transfer some of that money into the vacation account.
Are all your kids frugal? Them seem pretty amazingly resourceful and creative but do any of them resist the frugal nature of your household? While I am not as frugal as you, I’ve always been careful with our spending but my oldest has always felt restricted by our budget. He has, as the saying goes, “champagne taste on a (really bad) beer budget”! He is slowly learning about budgeting his expenses but he’d rather buy his whatever at Starbucks than make it at home. My other two complain sometimes (how come you make pizza when my friends get it delivered every Friday?), but they understand when I say your choice: pizza or a day snowboarding?
When it comes to their own money, they’re relatively frugal. My oldest two (both of whom have jobs) especially have been super disciplined about socking away most of their earnings into savings for future expenses.
They do both spend some of their money, but Joshua tries to keep his purchases limited to what he earns in tips at the coffee shop (for instance, he saved up his tips to buy a new coffee grinder for home use).
And Lisey mostly just spends some money on small things like coffee out with friends.
Sonia and Zoe earn money by babysitting and dog-sitting. We have them split up their earnings into giving, saving, and spending, and they have pretty free reign over how they spend their spending money.
Right now, that’s mostly Calico Critters and craft supplies.
I help all of my kids get the most bang for their buck when they do need to spend money, and they appreciate that!
Sonia and Zoe are always grateful for a 40% off coupon at the craft store, for example. And when Joshua needed to buy a bunch of shirts for work recently, he was very happy that I helped him find a online sale plus a coupon plus free shipping.
When it comes to their parents’ money, they’re obviously not quite as inspired about money-saving measures.
But it’s not like they live a crazy-deprived life. Groceries from Aldi, homemade yogurt and bread, off-season vacations, and clothes from ThredUp aren’t that miserable.
And if they want something like spendier clothing or coffee from Starbucks, they’re more than welcome to spend their own money on that.
I’ve written some about kids and money in the past, so I won’t rehash all of that here. And if you weren’t asking for advice, just ignore this:
Especially with a spendy kid, it’s super important not to bail them out when they spend all of their money.
They need to learn that once their money is spent, it’s spent, and there’s no getting loans or going into debt to parents. Reality is a perfect natural consequence as long as you don’t rescue them from it.
Hopefully as he sees this play out with his own money, your son will come to terms with the fact that money is a finite thing, and everyone has to make choices about how they spend it.
Hang in there, frugal mama!
Readers, if you’ve dealt with a kid who’s unhappy about your frugal choices, could you chime in with some advice for Suzanne?
Got a question of your own? If you’d like me to answer it in a future Q&A, send it to me via email!