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Fostering Frugality; Fun with Lego Duplos -- and Quizzes!

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, July 11, 2011
Vol. 12 No. 29, July 11, 2011, ISSN: 1536-2035
(c) 2011, Heather Idoni - www.FamilyClassroom.net

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Guest Article
-- Fostering Frugality
Helpful Tip
-- Fun with Lego "Duplo" Bricks!
Winning Website
-- Nation's Report Card Quizzes
Reader Question
-- Send Your Questions!
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Guest Article

Teaching Children to be Frugal
  by Barbara Frank

(excerpted from Thriving in the 21st Century: Preparing Our Children for the New Economic Reality)

You'll give your children a great advantage by training them to be frugal. The word "frugal" has negative connotations for some people, but even 200 years ago, smart people like Benjamin Franklin knew that being frugal is an asset. Let's clarify what frugal means: being careful with expenditures, not buying things you don't really need, and taking care of what you do have. It doesn't mean being cheap; in fact, people who only buy cheap goods usually end up spending more time and money replacing those cheap goods when they fall apart. A frugal person can recognize quality, and knows that a quality item lasts much longer than its "cheap" counterpart.

To be frugal is to be thrifty. Thrift was once considered a positive attribute, falling out of favor when America became a society of consumers in the mid-20th century. But there are still frugal people around; their thriftiness helped some of them become rich.

Billionaire investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton and his wife began married life by living very frugally. They cut expenses as low as possible, bought used furniture (items no one else bid on) at auctions, and only ate at restaurants when they could eat dinner for 50 cents (this was during the 1930s). They did these things in order to stick to their goal of saving 50% of their income. In The Templeton Plan, co-author James Ellison explains:

"The fact is, however, that John Templeton was not poor even then. He had a good income and a solid investment portfolio that was steadily growing. Some acquaintances might have regarded his approach to money, housing and the conveniences of life as somewhat eccentric, if not socially unacceptable. After all, the circles that Templeton, the investment counselor, frequented were characterized by big money, big houses, big cars, and big consumer spending in general. But Templeton was not one to live by society's more superficial values. He followed his own inner dictates and his developing religious beliefs."

And so a radical philosophy of thrift became a deeply rooted part of Templeton's way of life. He became convinced that success was closely connected to saving, a belief that he has never stopped practicing.

Templeton was not the only wealthy person whose fortune was due in part to thrift. In his ground-breaking books based on his study of American millionaires, Dr. Thomas J. Stanley wrote that despite the stereotype of the free-spending, luxurious millionaire lifestyle we see portrayed in movies and television shows, many millionaires are actually very careful about how they spend money. They also use strategies such as clipping coupons, refinishing and repairing possessions instead of buying everything new, and buying in bulk. In The Millionaire Mind, Dr. Stanley noted:
"People in my audiences often ask why a millionaire would clip coupons. It's not just to save fifty cents today -- it's how much can be saved and invested over a lifetime. The typical affluent family in America spends over $200 a week for food and household supplies. That's more than $10,000 per year. During an adult lifetime in current dollars, it translates to between $400,000 and $600,000. If you cut off just 5 percent of this amount, between $20,000 and $30,000, and invest it in a top-ranked equity fund, given the rate of return during the past few years the amount earned would have been $500,000."

I'm not suggesting that all or even many of our children will become wealthy by being frugal (though if you teach your child to be frugal and he grows up to be a millionaire, he'll handle the money better than most would). But the frugal millionaires Stanley studied illustrate the wisdom of being frugal and investing the money saved by being that way.

Teaching frugality to our children will benefit them once they're grown up and making their way in the global economy. They'll learn to live simply, thus experiencing less financial stress in the future. In a world where they'll often be between jobs, frugality could make the difference between financial stability and financial trouble. As writer Charles Jaffe once said, "It's not your salary that makes you rich, it's your spending habits".


Copyright 2011 Barbara Frank/ Cardamom Publishers

Barbara Frank has been homeschooling for 25 years. Her latest book is Thriving in the 21st Century: Preparing Our Children for the New Economic Reality (Cardamom Publishers, April 2011). You'll find her on the Web at http://www.thrivinginthe21stcentury.com and http://barbarafrankonline.com


Your feedback is always welcome! -- mailto:heather@familyclassroom.net

Helpful Tip

Fun with Lego Duplo Blocks

"Do you have a big collection of Lego Duplo blocks that your kids have outgrown or don't play with anymore? Don't get rid of them! You can easily re-purpose those bricks into educational manipulative toy-tools!

The pictures at the image links (below) are somewhat self-explanatory, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

If your child is still working on spelling -- or spelling longer words that are a challenge, you can put stickers on each Duplo with different letters on them. They then use the bricks to stack or line up their spelling words.

If grammar is your challenge, write a variety of words that are all different parts of speech. Stack the bricks into sentences. Use a box or just make a pile to have your child separate out the nouns, adjectives, etc. For an extra challenge, have them build new sentences using the same words.

For word recognition and spelling, show your child a picture of an object, then have them 'build' the word with the labeled Duplos.

I'm sure you can come up with other ideas on your own - math, anyone?"

-- Jodi in Iowa

Jodi's Website: Home Grown Hearts
Jodi's Blog: http://www.HomegrownHearts.com/blog

Links to images:


And for those with over-the-top ambition (and the money!):

Winning Website

The Nation's Report Card - Evaluation Quizzes

Explore sample questions from the U.S. history assessment, and see how the NAEP U.S. history questions relate to student performance.

  • View all the questions released from the 2010 assessment in the NAEP Questions Tool.
  • Download the U.S. History Framework, which describes the specific knowledge and skills that should be assessed.
  • See what students at each achievement level are likely to know and can do by viewing item maps.
  • Test yourself in other NAEP subjects.
  • =====================
    New Reader Questions

    Starting a Local Homeschool Social Group

    [This question was asked recently on our HomeschoolingBOYS.com email group. I thought it was a good one to ask our readers for more input for Jamie! -- Heather]


    "I live outside a rural town, with the majority of children going to public >school. My son went to public school up through last year, 4th grade. We are in our first year of homeschooling this year and he is an 11 yr old boy, an only child. We live in the country, so there are no children for him to play with. Our town doesn't have a local support group. I've found a group that is 45 minutes away, which we have joined, but that isn't convenient at all for us. We just can't afford the gas to go to the functions. We do go to co-op on Mondays at this group, and field trips, but it's getting to be too expensive with the cost of gasoline.

    I know in that in two towns which aren't very far away there are several homeschool families, so the idea of creating a closer group is one that can work, but the problem is -- I'm shy. I don't know where to start, what kind of things to say, do, etc. I do know that I will put up signs in the post office, some local gas stations, the library, an ad in the paper for starters. But when I schedule a meeting, I have no idea where to start. I do know I would like to get together once or twice a month for playdate type stuff, and I'd like to be able to schedule a field trip each month.

    I hope and pray that I can get lots of useful ideas from you all." -- Jamie


    And for our next High School Issue...

    "Hi -- Has anyone used College Plus and would you recommend it? It sounds like guidance to CLEP credits, but is there more to it? Thank you." -- O.P.


    Would you like to offer an answer to either of our above questions?
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