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Written By Colin Graves

Hey everyone! I’ve got a guest post for you today, from my friend Dave, who blogs over at Millennial Personal Finance.  In it, Dave describes how he’s passing the money lessons he learned from his parents along to his daughter.  As a dad with two beautiful daughters of my own, the post resonated with me right away!  I hope you enjoy it.  There’s also a link to Dave’s blog at the bottom of the post.  

One of the most valuable lessons my parents taught me was frugality. Many people might think that being frugal means clipping coupons, taking a “staycation” instead of a traditional summer vacation, or never dining out, in other words, not having fun and only buying something when it’s on sale. Being frugal is simply spending your money efficiently and living within your means. And, it’s probably one of the most important lessons I want to teach to my own daughter.


These are some of the lessons my parents taught me about frugality and living debt-free:

Living Within Your Means

The easiest way anybody can embrace a frugal lifestyle is living within your means by spending less than you earn. As a child, my parents didn’t earn a large disposable income until I was a teenager. To pay the bills, I remember they cut corners to ensure they had enough money in their checking account every month instead of carrying a credit card balance that so many other families do.

Two ways they made sure they didn’t overspend was by creating a budget and tracking spending. Since this was in the pre-Internet days, they did this with pen & paper. Now, you can use an online budgeting app to track your spending in real-time and create a budget that goes everywhere you do.

Making Savings Goals

Being frugal means having to delay large purchases if you don’t have enough money in the bank to cover the purchase at the moment. Sometimes you need to borrow money for life events like buying a house or earning a college degree. But, do you really need to go into debt to buy a bigger TV or a new car when the current one still functions perfectly.

My parents created savings goals to plan for large purchases. One recurring savings goal was our annual family trip whether it was visiting distant family or going to a dream spot that nearly every family wants to visit at least once. But, Disney is also one of the most expensive vacation spots once you factor the price of admission, lodging, dining, and travel.

Since my parents didn’t want to take out a small loan or make credit card payments every summer for vacation, they set aside a small amount of money each month to help pay for the cost of the vacation. We also didn’t take expensive and lavish trips every year. Instead of going to Disney each year, we went to local amusement parks or found similar local activities. Sure, we didn’t get to have our picture taken with Mickey each summer, but, we still had fun, frugally. A simple savings strategy can go a long way, especially if you have some serious financial obligations down the road aside from a family vacation.

How I Plan to Teach My Daughter Frugality

frugalitySpending less than you earn & making savings goals are the two primary lessons of frugality my parents taught me. There are some other lessons I want my own daughter to learn.

Spending, Saving, and Giving Jars

My parents had taught me to save more than I spent. I want to take it one step further by teaching my daughter to spend and save for a purpose. One way I can do that is by having a spending, saving, and giving jar where each dollar earned is divided 60%, 30%, and 10%, respectively. With the 60-30-10 principle, $10 earned would be allocated to $6 for spending, $3 for saving, and $1 for charity.

This way they can learn to only use a portion of their money to spend while still being able to save for the future and help others as well. This approach will help her also make a budget when she starts earning a “real paycheck” as an adult.

Get a Small Job

Receiving money on my birthday and Christmas were two times a year I earned money, and, I also want my daughter to get a small job that allows her to earn some extra cash and also explore her interests for potential future careers. By having her own job, she can learn how to budget and create her own savings goals as a teenager.

As a parent, I will still provide most of her needs and wants, but, if she wants to go see a movie with friends or buy a new dress, making those purchases with her own money will help her plan for purchases and spend less than she earns.


The secret to frugality is living within your means. By reducing expenses in some areas of life you can afford larger expenses somewhere else. Being frugal also means avoiding debt as much as possible and having a plan to repay the debt as soon as possible if you do borrow money. Just as my parents taught me to live within my means, I want to teach my daughter the same lesson and a few more that I learned along the way.

Dave Chen is the owner and main contributor to Millennial Personal Finance. He splits his time between his career as an engineer, his responsibility as a single father, and his hobby of writing and blogging.


  1. This is so cute! I LOVE the idea of having a Giving Jar. I always had savings jars growing up but I never thought to set aside change just for giving back. That is a WONDERFUL idea and I’d love to steal it and use it for my own kids. 🙂

  2. My parents tried to teach me – why didn’t I listen! I admit, this is an area where I am not great with my kids. I don’t indulge them and get them whatever they want, but I definitely don’t take enough time to teach. Like organizing chores for money is something I always start, but it becomes a “to do” item and I have no patience. You definitely inspire me to make this more of a priority. I certainly do not want them to end up like my, wandering around with debt until I was 40!

    • I’m with you, Linda. My attempt at money lessons tends to be inconsistent. I guess it’s like forcing kids to eat vegetables, it’s a best efforts basis at times. : ) Over the long run, you hope there’s a net benefit. My son has been increasingly receptive to my “advice” in the past year or so, of course he is 16. But he now has the motivation, which helps.

  3. Now this is a wise choice to teach you kids a little bit of frugality. Now a days consumerism has made us consume more than we need. We need to teach our kids not to waste money on silly things. However, very nice article and worth reading. I personally think that making a saving plan is the best way to secure your kid’s future and trust me you are doing a great job. Thanks for the piece.

  4. I think there’s a natural tendency for girls to spend more money on discretionary items than boys. Whenever my mom sees groups of women carrying 10 shopping bags in malls, she always says “thank God I had sons”. Women are naturally more social creatures than men (probably due to the way humans evolved), so it’s harder for them to avoid group think and be frugal while their friends are out buying 10 pairs of shoes.

    • Thanks for reading Troy. You make an interesting point, although I feel that the idea of girls being bigger spenders is really just a stereotype.
      For example, while I know a lot of women who love to shop, I also know a ton of guys who spend ridiculous amounts of money on toys like trucks, boats, quads, hunting and fishing gear, workshops, tools, the list goes on and on. My 14 year old daughter has an eye for brand name clothes, and loves shopping, but my wife and my mother are the complete opposite; they hate having to go to the mall and are about the most frugal people I know.


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