If you’re trying for a more frugal lifestyle, how do you get the family on board? Author Rachel Singer Gordon says make saving a game — with prizes. Put the money saved toward something fun, like a vacation.

How can a frugal mom get the rest of the family excited about spending less and saving more?

Make it fun, advises Rachel Singer Gordon, also known as the “Mashup Mom.”

“I may say to my son, ‘If we can get under a certain number on the register, you can keep the change,’ ” Gordon said.

The Chicago mother of two earned fame through her popular website, www.mashupmom.com, and her recently released book, “Point, Click, and Save.” She says another way to get kids on board the frugal bandwagon is to find kid-friendly deals.

“If you have a buy-one-get-one (free) coupon on a buy-one-get-one sale, most stores will let you take home both for free. I was shopping with my son, and I had a buy-one-get-one coupon for Hershey candy bars, and my store had them on sale for buy-one-get-one,” she said. “So I got two candy bars for the cost of tax, which at the time was 2 cents.”

Her son was so impressed that when he spotted a penny on the ground in the parking lot, he picked it up and said, “Let’s go back and get another candy bar!”

“That’s part of it, using coupons to buy treats,” Gordon said. “A common myth about couponers is that they have a pantry full of generic stuff. But since I started doing this, I have more brand names than I did before.

“To get the family on board, I say, ‘Hey we’re getting more good stuff than we did in the past.’ ”

Show him the savings

As far as convincing husbands to be frugal, Gordon says, seeing is believing.

“Men, more than women, have to be shown. You can’t just say, ‘I’m going to do this.’ What turns spouses around is seeing the fruits of your labors, shelves full of stuff for pennies on the dollar,” she said. “Initially, my husband said ‘What are you doing?’ when I had my coupons and everything all over the counter. But as he saw our bills going down and down, he started saying, ‘Wait, this is cool.’ ”

More tips to garner enthusiasm from the troops:

- Use your savings to buy family-pleasing items you otherwise couldn’t afford.

- Sign up for free samples. Children love finding surprises in the mailbox, from granola bars to tote bags.

- Apply savings toward vacation trips.

- Make saving a game. Who can figure out which product is the best deal? Who can spot the best deal at the grocery this week?

Squish-squash

Why is Gordon called the “Mashup” Mom?

“On the Internet, a mashup is when someone takes something from two different sources and squishes, or mashes it together to make something new,” Gordon said.

An example would be taking Google maps and mashing it with job market statistics such as media salary.

Gordon takes online saving strategies such as comparing prices and printing coupons, and mashes them with money-making strategies such as selling things online or launching a blog.

“It’s aimed at moms, but obviously anybody can take advantage of these strategies,” she said.

What’s a good first step for newbies who want to make money online?

“To start dabbling, try the survey sites that I mention in the book,” Gordon said. “You’re not going to get rich, but it’s something to do while the kids are in bed. You can let it add up and use for Christmas gifts, then not have that big credit card bill in January.”

Some survey sites send checks or gift cards, while others let you cash in points for merchandise. Sites Gordon recommends include www.dailysurveypanel.com, www.dollarsurveys.net and www.opinionoutpost.com.

The Repository