Home Management: 5 Ways to Create Family Traditions on a Budget

parentinghome management

Who associates family traditions with frugal living? Not I... at least not before reading Amy Allen Clark's book, "The Good Life for Less: Giving Your Family Good Meals, Great Times, and a Happy Home on a Budget."

I won't lie. Before reading it, frugal living sounded time consuming and like something I was too busy to think about. Can you relate?

But as I've started applying some of the simple steps, I've found that they are not time consuming at all, but just the opposite. Adopting a frugal living lifestyle, even if just in baby steps, has seemed to give our family more time together, which has resulted not only in saving us money, but in helping us form meaningful moments that we were craving.


It is never too late to adopt a frugal living mindset. This weekly series of four posts helps you capture the salient points in Amy's book to do just that.

The first week in post one, we shared 10 tips for creating and living on a budget. Then, last week, we talked about getting frugal in the kitchen. I had a lot to work on after reading that chapter. Next week's post, our last in this series, will cover home organization. Who's ready to clean and make your own detergent? I'm hoping my hubby raised his hand. LOL!

In this, part three of our four-part series on frugal living, we will dive into sharing advice from Chapter 4: Good Times: Holidays, Family Gatherings, and Special Occasions—my favorite of all the chapters. Not only is it chock full of enough tips to dedicate a weekly blog column to for a year, but it is where you really hear Amy's voice. And if you haven't met her in person, you will definitely want to become friends with her and hang with her family after reading this section. While every family has it's struggles and I'm sure Amy's is no different, the warmth and fun oozes off the pages and makes you want to do things like take a bubble bath while listening to Christmas Carols blaring throughout the house, make super sidewalk paint, or start a Thoughtful Stocking tradition.

Let's get started in the same vein as Amy starts this chapter in her book where she says:

I've found that special occasions are a time when being creative and choosing to open my heart instead of my wallet makes it possible to work wonders with a limited budget. Our family focuses on the joy of each event together, on traditions that make the people we love feel special, and on activities that remind us how fortunate we are.

5 Ways to Create Family Traditions on a Budget

Here are 5 ways to open our hearts instead of our wallets in creating memories that will last:

  1. DSC_0897"Estimate your expenses." As with everything else and regardless of the holiday, special occasion, or event, go into it with a budget.
  2. "Find the funds." Save for upcoming events and take advantage of stores that offer layaway programs.
  3. "Get the most for your money." Buy off season, sign up for daily deal sites, and buy in bulk are three ways Amy shares on how to get holiday gifts that are within your budget.
  4. "Set realistic expectations." Help your children focus on all the experiences that make up special occasions and not the gifts that often accompany them.
    My fondest memory of all of my Christmases growing up was when we did the 12 Days of Christmas for a family in need. A good friend of mine (our neighbor's) mom was dying of cancer. They had six children who were all consumed with caring for their mom. My mom planned out 12 days of giving. Our family dropped off gifts anonymously on their doorstep every night and would gather in our living room afterward to discuss each night's gift, our experience of dropping it off, and what we thought the family must be thinking. We were usually most concerned about whether or not we had been discovered, but we also discussed things like cancer, carrot juice (interesting thing to remember, right?), and the needs of the family. I don't remember a single gift I received that year or really most of my growing up years, but I remember every detail about that particular Christmas and the experience of giving to our neighbors as if it were yesterday.
  5. Get creative on ways you can cut. For example, send digital invites for free instead of paying to purchase and send them. Keep your holiday meals simple. Use things like old maps, brown sacks, old decks of cards for wrapping paper instead of purchasing it from the store. Adopt the attitude that "homemade is from the heart."

How to Achieve the Good Life for Less

For recommendations on living the good life for less, including how to create and live on a budget, steps to take to adopting a frugal living mindset in the kitchen, creating good times through a strong sense of tradition and family closeness, and organizing your home, check out the posts in this series as well as Amy's book, which you can find at Barnes & NobleWalmartAmazonPowell's, and IndieBound.

What tips do you have for helping your kids focus on the experience of a special event instead of the material things, like gifts, that often accompany them?

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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.


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