4 easy ways to teach kids about money
Do you teach your kids about money? Do you even know where to begin or at what age? I’ve used these 4 methods to start the money teaching process to my kids.
The older my kids get the more I find myself counting backwards. Instead of my oldest being almost 12, I think, I only have 6 years left! I’m not planning on kicking them out of the nest and changing my number at 18. It’s just going to be their turn to make the everyday decisions with what I taught them about life. Our rules are helping little humans create their own ideas and habits for their life. As a kid I was not taught good money management skills. I had only a few tools in my toolbox and grew up rather poor. It made learning on my own, as an adult, difficult.
We have a good friend in our life who loves our kids. She also enjoys showing that love through gifts. The kids would get toys, snack items or clothes every single time she came to our house. She got just as much joy watching their faces light up as they got out of getting a surprise. Until one day my precious little 3 year old saw her walk in the door and jumped up, ran over to hug her while shouting excitedly “Mama B! What did you bring us!?!” I raised a gracious little thing didn’t I, ugh. This is completely normal for a child to associate the two when it is a repetitive behavior. Gift giving is a love language. They feel love when they receive gifts and give gifts to express their love. Hearing my chubby cheeked daughter sound so much like the blueberry girl in Willy Wonka, however, was not gonna fly with me. Another lesson learned the hard way, now to fix it.
Over the years I’ve tried many different ways of teaching my guys money skills. We really don’t buy toys just because it’s Wednesday or they ask or it’s the cool new latest and greatest thing. There is never a day that the kids wake up and say “Hey mom I want to get this new _____ can you get it for me?” Things that aren’t needed get added to a Birthday or Christmas wish list or they buy it themselves. Hard work through the school year or seeing a lot of effort in a difficult area of their life and always when they aren’t expecting it might gain them a random gift to say hey I noticed you keep up the good work. Otherwise they are very aware of the fact that they earn those things they want.
This list holds a few ideas that we’ve used to help teach our kids a few money skills.
In our house there’s a list of things that no one wants to do. Things like; wiping down the baseboards, washing the dogs, vacuuming out the cars, wiping down the dining table and chairs, washing walls. Those extra things that need to be done every now and then, ya know. These things stay on a small chalkboard in the kitchen with how much I’m willing to pay someone else to do them. Normally between $1-$10 depending on how long I know it’ll take. This is a way for the kids to take initiative and earn their own money. I typically get interest when they have a certain toy they want or they know the fair is coming and they want some spending money. This list is not their daily chore. They do not get paid for daily chores. I explain all that here. The older kids are starting to get into the lawn mowing stage and that is a separate money making avenue for them too.
I know some grown-ups who are expert savers. I am mediocre and I know some who just can’t do it no matter how hard they try. How cool would it be if our kids learn good money habits! Maybe when they are grown it won’t be quite as hard to save. Each kid ended up getting a savings account. Anytime they earn money or get money for a gift they put 10% into savings 10% goes to God and the rest they get to keep. They can give more or save more but after the 10% it’s their call.
This has been the rule in our house for a while now and they’ve began to factor it in automatically when they are adding up how much money they’ll earn per job. I’ll hear them say things like, I need $12 for this toy so if I make $6 doing this chore how much will I have left after saving and giving? Of course when I tell them to try and figure it out they ask siri, bless their hearts. If all goes well it’ll be easier for them to save and give when they don’t have our rule and must manage their money on their own. Creating good habits so they have a jumping off point into this adulthood stuff.
Things started disappearing in our house! Brand new things left at school never to be seen again. Items haphazardly placed on a counter to inevitably have water spilled on it. Then there was the era of playing in school clothes and every single time they’d come back with a hole in the knee. Does any of this sound familiar? It seemed like half of what I had just bought for school was ruined or lost before the first report card. My daughter’s reply to losing her umbrella, that she had never even used, was it’s ok I don’t mind getting wet. Grrrrr. I had to figure out a way to teach them the value of the things they have.
We sat down and had a conversation about this problem that was driving me crazy. We explained that from now on if I buy them something and they lose or destroy it they will get to replace it. There was no option to replace it, they must replace it. We explained they will have to do chores off the extra list to earn the money and then order as close to the same thing they lost, color and everything. It is not fun to have to buy the same pair of blue jeans to replace the ones you had. It’s incredible to see them take care of that pair of jeans like they are the nicest piece of clothing they own!
I started seeing progress when my daughters tablet charger broke and she did several things from the extra chore list to earn $7. She had searched for her charger on Amazon all by her 11 year old self and found how much she needed to earn! I was so proud. She had been talked to about not taking care of her tablet. Leaving it outside one night, pulling the cord out haphazardly etc. It was awesome to see her take the initiative to fix what she had broken. I have a feeling this new charger is going to last a lot longer.
When I went to school we had something called consumer math. It taught us things like how to balance a checkbook, and how to do our taxes. You know the useful to every human being planning to live on their own one day kinda math. Why is this not taught in school anymore? I’m not knocking the importance that algebra plays but I do know some grown-ups that can’t do algebra…they still have to pay their bills and balance a bank account, though. Take that how you will. Not the end of the world, it just means us parents must make sure we teach them. I know a few families that keep their kids out of their finances and budgets etc. I get it, I just take a different approach. An easy place to start for us was groceries. Every Wednesday the kids alternate making dinner. Some weeks they have to choose what they’ll make from what is already in the freezer or pantry. Other times they get to choose a recipe, check to see what ingredients are already in the house and make a shopping list for what else they’ll need. Then we take a shopping trip. They get to look at the options and compare the prices, with parental guidance. Then they get to check out and Mom/Dad pay the tab. I love to watch their faces when they see how much 1 meal cost. With as little assistance as possible (the hard part for me) they prepare the meal according to their recipe. It has been really cool to see how proud they are when the family sits down to eat their meal. All of the kids are loving this. Each one has their specialty now; my son’s is meatloaf and my daughter is lasagna. Mom and Dad are liking this new Wednesdays off deal too. We get to sit around and enjoy each other’s company while the kids are cooking for us!
Our list here is a starter list of ideas for kids. I’m looking forward to growing into teaching banking skills next. For those of you who have any tips on teenage money skills, I’d love to hear them!