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Don't shop for groceries hungry, and other tips to teach kids about thrifty living

With prices for food, fuel, and other items rising in recent months it can be hard for families to stretch a dollar. Many parents are trying to cut back on household expenses since home is usually the biggest part of a family's budget. Reducing expenses can be great opportunities to teach students how to save costs around the house.COURTESY PHOTO: WILLAMETTE CONNECTIONS ACADEMY - Bobbi Kipperman

If you want your student to be more thrifty around the house and to learn about finances, here are some ideas.

Foodie Finances

Take your kids grocery shopping with you to compare prices between generic and store brands, explaining they're often the same products.

Lucas, one of the seniors at our school, picked up tips from shopping with his mom.

"I've learned do not go to the grocery store hungry, you'll buy food that is not on your list," he shared.

Lea, a Willamette Connections Academy parent, said her third grader loves bargain shopping.

"One of the local grocery stores offers an app with coupons and other features," Lea explained. "My son helps prepare the shopping list and applies discounts in the app. We find good deals by calculating the price per unit at the store. He's very good at math and gets excited looking at our total savings when we're finished!"

Cooking at home is a fun way for children to learn about being cost-conscious. I like baking sourdough bread, but you might try making pizza and letting kids add their favorite toppings.

Lucas shared another cost-saving idea: "We eat leftovers. My mom's a really good cook and we can eat last night's dinner for lunch the next day."

Savvy Shopping

Buying less is one of the best things to do from an eco-friendly and money-saving standpoint. Purchasing used goods is a great way to cut costs and it's better for the planet.

Lea's family enjoys resale shopping for clothes.

"My 11-year old daughter is so thrilled when she finds her favorite jeans for a huge discounted price at a local high-end thrift shop," she said.

Lucas added: "Over the years my mom, dad and older brother have taught me to be frugal. When we shop at second-hand stores, you can find really cool clothes there. My brother also gives me clothes that don't fit him anymore."

Garage sales and digital marketplace apps offer students places where they can feel good about buying and selling used goods (with your guidance). Students can feel good knowing they've kept something out of a landfill.

Energy Cost Savings

Take your student for a walk around the house, pointing out how they can reduce costs and help the environment. Are your children turning off the TV when they're finished watching it? Do they shut off the water while brushing their teeth?

You can also show your kids the utility bills so they understand the various rates.

"My mom always told me 'Shut the lights off if you're not in that room, we are not friends with the power company!'" Lucas explained.

Be Resourceful

There are many ways you can be resourceful around the house. Try using fallen branches, pinecones and other items for decorations this holiday season. It provides a great opportunity to let your family's creativity flow.

Instead of holiday gifts, my family writes heartfelt letters to each other. Opening our letters together with a cup of hot cocoa has become one of our most treasured family traditions.

"Our family feels it's important to reuse things as much as possible," Lea said. "My son creates costumes, swords, and ramps for his toy cars using repurposed products such as wood scraps and cardboard boxes."

Toy rotations are another great way to keep children engaged with what they have. If you notice a doll house isn't used, hide it and then bring it out on a rainy day. They'll be excited to see it again and you don't have to spend money on a new toy.

Keep the fun going at home with family nights! They are not only low-cost and good fun for bonding with children but can also enhance academics when you add board games and other activities.

Think about the thrifty family traditions you learned growing up. How can you help the next generation learn to save money on daily living expenses?

Bobbi Kipperman is a 7th grade teacher at Willamette Connections Academy, a full-time tuition-free online public school serving K-12 students statewide. To learn more about the school visit or call (800) 382-6010.

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