By Sarah M. Ellis, UF/IFAS Extension Citrus County
When you have a family, it seems like there is never enough money to go around and saving money frequently gets pushed aside. However, saving money can help stabilize your family’s financial life.
Saving is putting money aside for future use and requires discipline and, at times, denial. Therefore, it’s important to discuss the importance of saving with the whole family. Generally, people save with a goal in mind. Do you have an emergency fund? Do you need a new car? Would you like to take a family vacation?
If you do not have an emergency fund, establishing one should be your first goal. Life happens and you never know when a family member or pet might get sick or have an accident. Having money set aside in case of an emergency helps you avoid building debt if a crisis occurs.
How much money should be in your emergency fund depends on your family size, income, spending habits, and job security. It is recommended, if possible, to have three months of income in your emergency fund. Saving three months of income might seem impossible, but how much you save is less important than how often you save. Small, but consistent, savings add up over a period of time.
Once you have your emergency fund established you can start saving for other needs or wants!
For saving tips visit America Saves’ 54 Ways to Save Money.
Saving as a Family
By Elizabeth Kiss, Ph.D.; Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Kansas State University/Kansas Saves
Sometimes when children hear their parents or other adults in their lives talking about cutting spending or saving money, they assume that the family is going through a rough patch. As appropriate based on children’s ages, family conversations about money goals, including saving and spending plans, reassure children. It is also a great way to introduce (or remind) children about the reasons we save.
Talking about family saving goals helps children understand that putting money aside for the future – whether to be prepared for unexpected expenses, for short-term goals such as summer vacation, or for longer term goals such as paying for college – is important to you. They will also likely be interested in knowing how they can help. They may even want to set their own savings goals and be motivated to work toward achieving them!
Get Your Family Involved
Get your family involved with your saving plan by brainstorming ways to cut expenses in order to free up money to put toward your saving goals. Explore low- and no-cost activities you can do together as a family. Consider selling rarely used books, toys, clothes and other items in a garage sale or other marketplace.
Involve children by:
- Encouraging them to be aware of their energy and water use by turning off lights and electronics when not needed and by turning off the water when brushing teeth and taking showers
- Thinking about things that the family regularly spends money on and talking about if the family stills wants or needs the items or if they can select cheaper alternative or perhaps do without them
- Teaching them to comparison shop and choose generics or use coupons when it makes sense
- Challenging them to suggest ways to enjoy time together as a family for less. Not sure where to start? Check out these suggestions
Including children in trips to your financial institution (or an ATM) to deposit or transfer money into a saving account helps them to visualize the process. Consider posting a running total of the dollar amount of deposits and the progress made toward a family saving goal on the refrigerator or a bulletin board.
Encouraging Children to Save
Saving money is a habit that is developed over time. In addition to letting children know that you save, help them begin to develop their own saving habit. Money as You Grow, a framework that links money-related activities to children’s developmental stages, is a great resource for conversation starters and activities for children of all ages at consumerfinance.gov.