Living a frugal lifestyle means my husband, kids, and I don’t go out to eat very often. When we do, depending on where we’re going, we take a few steps to prepare our kids to help avoid shopping meltdowns when they inevitably want extras that don’t fit our budget.
A perfect example of this was a recent trip to Cracker Barrel. We were invited out to dinner with family to join them at Cracker Barrel. If you’ve never been to this restaurant, an important fact to know is that in order to get to the main seating area to eat, you have to walk through a store filled with toys, gadgets, gizmos, and candy.
Knowing this ahead of time, I was able to prepare our kids for frugality. Not to be mean, not to keep them from getting new toys or candy, but because we were already burning our “miscellaneous” budget for the month by going out to eat – we simply don’t have it in our budget to buy extra items (like, say, $20 in toys or candy).
In the parking lot, before stepping foot in the door, I explained to my kids that, 1) there is a store inside the restaurant; and, 2) We had time to look at items, but we were not going to buy anything.
Walking in, they were excited, looking at all the goodies and doodads with wide eyes. Despite our talk not 5 minutes before, they did ask…several times…to buy this and that. But, since we had a chat about it in the car, they were prepared for me to say ‘no.’
Preparing our kids by discussing the look but no-buying plan ahead of time made it much easier for me, and less upsetting for my kids as they already knew they weren’t getting a toy or candy.
I had some gripes, but no meltdowns.
Plus, it saved us from spending an extra $20+. It may not sound like much, but, for us, this was the difference between meeting budget and going over budget this month.
(Besides, Christmas is right around the corner and they have plenty of gifts coming from Santa!)