This weekend, after many discussions with both my girls about the cutbacks we need to make in our family expenses, we find ourselves at the mall. Frankly, it is a place we have all avoided as of late. What we do not see, we do not want. But, we were taking my mother out to lunch and shopping, her two favorite things to do these days. Once at the mall, our “talk” about cutting back was put to the test. We passed — but just barely.

Each item of clothing that the girls looked at got the “is it what you need or what you want” once over. Allison relented and put back a purse that we all knew she did not need. Amanda pared down her purchases to pants that she had to have as she has now grown again and everything is too short. “Mom,” she explained, “I am folding as many of my pants as I can to make them look like they fit, but it’s cold outside!”

They each paid for their purchases themselves. A feat in itself to get them to remember to bring their own money to the mall — and not to rely on me — and we left, a bit stronger for having fought the good fight — and won.

On the car ride home, though, is where I realized just how closely my youngest, Amanda, is watching my purchases. “Mom, I know that we are cutting expenses and watching what we spend, but why, just after you gave us our first ‘lecture’ did Dad go out and buy $21.00 olive oil?”

Excellent question. I told her I would ask Dad and get back to her.

Be careful to set the right example with your kids once you bring them in on the plan to cut expenses. At the end of each week, have a family review of each other’s spending. Let each person rate how they think you did that week. Sounds uncomfortable even to me — but maybe just what we all need to make sure we are true to our mission — to spend money only on what we need and save the rest.

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Written by Susan Beacham
Susan Beacham founded Money Savvy Generation in 1999 after almost two decades in private banking and investment management complemented by considerable time teaching at the elementary level.

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