In an age of rampant materialism, on Microsoft's MoneyCentral Web site columnist Janet Luhrs gave eight suggestions for parents helping their families to live more simply.
First, we need to practice what we preach. For example, if mom and dad are living in a state of perpetual debt, how can we expect to teach our children the importance of living within their means? Example is the best teacher.
Second, as in everything, we should talk openly with our kids about the power of the media. Luhrs says she reminds them about the deceptive nature of advertising.
Third, Luhrs suggests that parents teach their children to save, perhaps by setting up an account for them.
Fourth, we must teach the difference between "wants" and "needs". A child may need a new pair of shoes, but want the latest designer brand.
Fifth, we must insist that our children pay for extras. If they want something that isn't covered by their normal allowance, require them to do additional chores around the house and earn the money to buy it.
Sixth, we need to value our family time. Uninterrupted quality time with our kids is an everyday essential. Say "no" to invitations that would interfere with the sacred ritual of eating together.
Seventh, we should help our kids say "no" to excessive after-school activities. Set limits. Life doesn't have to be an endless rat race.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we need to help ourselves and our kids become better human beings. In addition to teaching the value of hard work, financial responsibility, and family time, we should model and extol virtues like kindness, compassion, and honesty.
These simple steps contrast sharply with the materialistic messages our children receive every day from the media. It's up to provide them with a voice of reason.