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Kids And Money: Frugal Living Is Not The Same As Living On The Cheap

By Steve Rosen Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Columnist Steve Rosen asserts that living frugally is a learned habit. Rosen asks some financial experts who deal with kids and money issues to share some examples of how they practice frugality.

Tribune News Service

I got a taste of frugal living while in college, and the lessons I learned stuck with me to this day.

Like many of my college peers, my desk and bookshelves were made of cinder blocks and plywood. I bought day-old bread and snacks, and I used both sides of the tablet notebook paper right down to the last sheet.

Later in my professional career, I took my frugal lifestyle to a different level. I mostly shunned going out to lunch; instead I made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, ate at my desk, and reused the plastic sandwich bag for a week or two before tossing it. I also used the public library to check out books and movies, saving a bundle. Spare change went into a Mason jar.

Was I cheap? Hardly. I was watching my pennies, stretching my paycheck and trying to make good choices so I could spend money on things I considered more important. I also learned to discern between needs and wants.

Living frugally is a learned habit, and it doesn't come easily for teens and twentysomethings. How can you instill a more frugal lifestyle in you kids? I asked some financial experts who deal with kids and money issues to share some examples of how they practice frugality.

-Krista Cavalieri, the owner of Evolve Capital, a Columbus, Ohio, financial planning firm: "My most frugal habit is saving tissue paper. Most often people save the wrapping paper their gifts come in. However, the majority of the gifts I receive are in the form of gift bags filled with tissue paper. I save both the tissue paper and the gift bag, but the tissue paper is much more handy.

"I will also ask for a discount at the store for items that have a small stain or tear. I can usually tell if I can get the stain out and am also adept with scissors, needles and thread."

-Susan Beacham, author and owner of the Money Savvy Generation in South Carolina: "My favorite saying is 'Nickels and dimes make quarters.' So I save and repurpose the Ziploc bags prescriptions come in; I haven't bought a pen or pencil in decades _ only use hotel pens and pencils. Scrap paper is also a courtesy of the hotels I stay in. Always get ribbon to use later when gift wrapping is available at a store where I am buying something. All of this saves me nickels at a time and well. As the saying goes, before you know it you have quarters, and four of those is a dollar!

"For me being frugal is a fun challenge. I like to see just how much I can save using things that are put in my path, like grocery bags, ribbon and pens!"

-Allison Beacham, co-author with her parents of "O.M.G.: The Official Money Guide for College Students": "I purchase my organic veggies at Aldi because they have the best price for quality produce. I never purchase anything online without a promo code, and I always save coupons. I keep the lights off during the day to keep my electricity bill down. I don't buy coffee during the week. I make it. I read the magazines that still come to my apartment from the previous tenant."

-Lionel Shipman, Lutz, Fla., 20 years in banking and financial services: "I have used the plastic grocery shopping bags to dispose of garbage instead of the standard kitchen trash bags. Yes, it meant more trips to the main garbage can, but I was saving money and get a little more exercise."

-Patrina Dixon, owner of It's My Money, a financial education consulting firm in Connecticut: "I shop regularly at The Dollar Store. Everything is truly $1. When I drink tea, I reuse the tea bags. I carry a travel cup in my car and ask for water, for free, with meals if I eat at a fast food place."

All of these contributors walk the talk. You can too.

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