Published on May 31, 2016 inParenting on LandOMoms.com
Money was a topic we were talking a lot about when we were financially struggling. I was the careful spender, out of necessity, dividing my carefully labeled envelopes with cash in them for the week’s purchases.
During that time, we talked a lot with our kids about the importance of spending wisely and the need to be careful. We were up to our necks in debt it seemed as if we talked about the lack of money almost daily. Good times, good times…
I’ll never forget the rather humbling moment (ahem!) when the cashier was ringing up our food and my son said in his loudest voice, “WOW, MOM! THAT’S A LOT OF DOLLARS. ARE YOU SURE YOU WILL HAVE ENOUGH DOLLARS? YOU SURE BOUGHT A LOT OF STUFF! I HOPE YOU’LL HAVE ENOUGH DOLLARS.” As much as I wanted to die from embarrassment, there was also a bit of pride that we had talked about money with him and he knew the importance of staying within our budget.
After going through those challenging times though, I found 3 lessons that kids can understand from an early age that will teach them skills they can use their entire life.
How to Save
The first lesson for kids is the act of saving money, not just the saving of what they receive as gifts, but also working towards a savings goal for something they really want. You can buy piggybanks divided into compartments for spending, saving, & giving. You can also announce a craft day and have them create their own jars to help them divide their money. When they receive cash, give them the responsibility of dividing it into their bank so that they can understand the importance of saving AND giving.
When they really want something, but don’t have the funds for it, make them work to earn it. It’s important that kids understand they have to work for what they want in life. Give them a list of household chores they can do to earn money and encourage them to watch their money grow. If we give our kids everything, they will never understand the importance and pride that comes from working towards a financial goal.
How to Comparison Shop
Taking a few moments to comparison shop can save you a lot of money and that’s exactly the kind of skill you want to teach your kids to help them get the biggest bang for their buck. When they were small, I asked my kids which was the better value of an item once I taught them about the information found on barcodes (like the price per ounce). You can even ask them to create a price comparison sheet for your favorite stores and recruit the kids to record the information for you as you shop. Seeing the prices side by side is much easier to comprehend.
As they get older, show them ways they can save by using comparison shopping sites like PriceGrabber or by adding a comparison shopping app to their phone like ShopSavvy to compare pricing. These are especially important skills for a college student needing to catch Ramen Soup (speaking from experience) on sale.
How to Understand the Value of Things
One of the biggest lessons of all, though, is discovering the value of things.
With this one, I think the example you set for how you care for your own things is one of the best ways to teach your kid how to value what they have. If you treat your furniture poorly, for example, your kids won’t care about it either.
Talk to them about why you spend a little more on some things, sometimes, if you know it will last longer and show them that you care about the things you have because you earned them. When they earn and save their money, they will have pride in their purchases and care for them properly because they worked for it.
Working and caring for the things you want in your life is probably the greatest lesson of all!