How do you teach your children about money? There are endless ways we can provide guidance and education in the value of money and how to spend it or save it. We have tried quite a few different approaches as I assume most families have. I’m not sure we have found the perfect way to handle money with the kids, but we keep forging on in this murky mud. It’s quite possibly the most important lesson of all in this world, isn’t it? I mean, how to manage money is pretty key in how to live in this world successfully. Hate to admit it, though. I’d rather say that loving others and how to care for people is really what provides food and shelter and will pay the bills…
Man that would be awesome.
So my kids get a weekly allowance. They are free to spend it or save it or give it away. I am sold on the idea that your kids can’t learn how to use their money if they don’t have any to practice with. Every week they have a choice: Spend, Save, or Give.
I believe the best way to teach our children anything, is to show them by our own modeling. My kids have picked up a few lessons on money matters through watching me spend, save, or give. They go shopping regularly with me (groan) and know for certain these things:
1. You don’t buy it unless it’s on sale, and bonus if you have coupons to boot!
2. You must always check the receipt because chances are (and I mean half the time) it is WRONG.
3. Always pay close attention to how much you have, versus how much you are spending.
4. Credit is good, as long as you pay it back on time.
5. And most importantly, you only buy things that are worthy of your money.
So as we go to the stores, my kids watch and learn. They ask, “Mommy, can we get this? It’s on sale!!” And they come running to me with, “Mommy! I found coupons!! Here are a BUNCH for you!!” They watch me check my receipt and await the dreaded standing in customer service line to get our credit on register mistakes. They borrow money from us to buy that oh so treasured toy, and pay it back as soon as they get their next allowance. They save for weeks in order to have a “bundle” to spend on a desired toy. They know prices of many household items we need, and sometimes beg for the desired things we don’t…all the while knowing that this is what we call, “greed”.
I think they are getting it.
My daughter saved up for months so she could have that coveted shopping trip with mommy on her birthday. Girl’s night out with dinner included! We went from favorite store to favorite store comparing prices and going through the process of discerning what is the best choice for her riches. At the end of the night, she chose two dolls (on sale!) at the Disney Store to add to her ongoing collection. She went through (I kid you NOT) Toys R Us and Justice and she came out EMPTY HANDED!!! Not one thing in either store was “worthy of” her money. No impulsive shopping here! VICTORY!!!
May I also add (boast) that she then SAVED her grandpa’s 100.00 gift check without a moment’s hesitation, claiming she ‘really didn’t need anything else right now’. Glory, Glory Hallelujah!! That was a month or so ago- and yes, she has been tempted once or twice (“Oh I want that motorized scooter sooooo bad! I have the money AND it’s on sale mommy!”) But after some coaxing from me a few times, her valuable hunk of cash is still in the bank. I see her grow in knowledge and pride about how she values her choices about money. I am most proud of this kid because she has grown from a greedy little impulsive “I want that NOW” kid to this maturing thoughtful and responsible spender/saver of money.
My son has grown in his little world as well. I ended up lending him three allowances to get the Skylander figure all bundled in a package he dreamed about for weeks. He could have just paid for the one character with his money in hand, but I tried to convince him that if he waited just three more weeks, he could get the set, which procured two more characters for the price of one! My six year old wanted the one, and wanted it NOW. I get that. The kid is six for crying out loud. So I set up a deal. I buy the set and give him his desired little weird creature, and he can “buy” the others as the weeks of allowances unfold. Credit.
The remaining Skylander figures were bought by the little guy’s three weeks of allowance. No questions asked, no whining and no crying for his money back. He gets it. Credit paid in full.
My kids also learn one more lesson about money. That when it comes to giving, if it’s for others in need…
It is always worthy of your money. Period.
So many times, I have watched my kids do this and there is possibly nothing sweeter to witness. I remember my daughter lighting up about my idea of her selling some of her toys to get money to help her friend who was saving up for her first American Girl Doll. We made 8 bucks and called it the “AGD donation fund”.
I have on many occasions, took my kids to shop for friends who are struggling. My kids have helped me pick out fine wines, yummy chocolate, good books, food, and lovely trinkets all for the sake of giving. I feel their excitement when we leave that special package on a doorstep and drive away or give people any gifts we personally pick out.
So this morning, my son wakes me up by climbing into my bed in a panic state…
“MOMMY! Daddy forgot to give me my allowance! I need it because I wanna buy chickens for that family. The teacher said to bring in 50 cents, but I am giving my whole allowance because, well….I already have lots of food and lots of toys and they don’t.”
What a beautiful way to start the day.
We are involved in an AWESOME dance ministry. (Leap Of Faith) This week is summer camp. One of the many cool missions of this great organization is to help a child in Africa and her starving family. This week, kids are taught about their need and they are encouraged to bring spare change of 50 cents to help buy her a chicken. Maybe two if all goes well with the donations. A boy and girl chicken would feed their family for years to come.
My son gets it.
Money is always a sticky tricky thing. But it looks like for now- my kids are well on their way to handling it with both responsibility and generosity.
An added note: The dance studio got broken into the following night. All the money was taken out of each safe, and the director’s laptop, filled with ten years of information was also stolen. What’s truly remarkable? The “Chicken Money” jar filled with all the children’s cash was left untouched.