A screaming fit because there isn’t enough money to buy Barbie might be enough to pull your hair out as a parent, but it might just be the best thing for your child to learn that money doesn’t grow on trees!
Our kids are getting a little bit older so we can talk to them about earning money and using it for giving, saving and spending purposes. In fact, this year has been a turning point for our family. I’m no longer forced into telling my kids “no” whenever they ask for something at the grocery store. Instead, I ask them if they have the money.
They both earn an allowance each week for just a couple of small responsibilities around the house. I pay them cash and they have to make deposits in their banks: One each for giving, saving and spending.
So, if they choose to use all their spending money one week when making a trip with mommy to the grocery store and don’t have any money left when they want something else; it becomes their problem, not mine. :)
It’s a valuable lesson of financial responsibility they must learn. I love them and want to buy them things they want, but that would be foolish to do so every time. In fact, it would probably set them up for spending problems later.
It’s a hard lesson even for adults to learn when we don’t have the money for something we want. Adults throw screaming fits in their own little ways and often times go ahead and spend the money anyway. The only problem is the toys get much bigger when we’re adults!
I’m learning a lot as a dad, though. Perhaps I’m already wiser in my ways and I realize teaching kids about money is a journey. I know that my job is to plant those little nuggets of wisdom along the way, be a good coach and help out when they need a little extra motivation.
And that extra motivation might be towards an area I want to them to focus on such as giving or saving. For example, I did tell my daughter that it would be wise to have a savings goal. Otherwise, her savings lasts about a week and then it’s gone.
I suggested she pick a toy she really wants. Something that was out of reach from a couple week’s of allowance money. If she can save towards that goal, at least 50% of it, then I’m willing to match her savings. In doing this, I can still buy my little girl something, but she has to meet me half way and will learn an invaluable lesson about saving money.
If we can start planting those seeds of financial wisdom and teach kids financial responsibility at a young age it will carry through to spending, saving and giving decisions all the way through high school and hopefully, eventually, they need less coaching from mom and dad.
How are you teaching your kids financial responsibility?