This coming weekend, I co-host my 5th annual Becoming Conference . As I prepare for one of my money saving workshops, I dusted off some prior posts and even after a few years of writing this, I still stand by all these tips.
One of my blogging goals this year incorporates sharing the steps we are taking to train our children in financial responsibility.
I thought it would be a good intro to just a few ways that we’re maneuvering this process. Interestingly enough, it’s changed SO much just since our eldest has gotten his drivers license, and I chuckle at the teaching that has occurred just around that topic.
Balancing the budget with a houseful of five children is never easy, but training those blessings to be “Money Saving Kids” in a culture where the credit card “is king” results in an even greater challenge.
My husband and I’s desire to raise children committed to debt free living has encouraged us to implement important steps that aid in casting this vision. A vision, which one way or another, will impact generations to come.
1. By understanding that fiscal responsibility is to be woven into the fabric of our family as a long term goal, we mentor and model the understanding of need vs. want. For many children (and adults), this is a very gray area.
We sit down and determine as a family what our true needs are and then spark frequent discussions from that framework.
Taking advantage of teachable moments help us navigate the “Why not?” waters of frugal living.
2. Financial discussions and decisions take place as a family.
Throughout our year of unemployment, we were very open about financial decisions that needed to be made. We didn’t shield our children from our struggles, yet hoped to assist them in learning as we learn. (Of course, this doesn’t mean telling the nitty gritty of every detail to the little ones, but we didn’t want to gloss over struggles either. We share how our saving and emergency funds were priorities years ago, allowing us to now respond responsibly, and not react impulsively amid challenging, financial circumstances.
3. Educating our children at a young age about debt
Understanding the power of cash, the demise of credit, and as well as learning how to use a checking account are life skills that are crucial. Explaining how our “paperless society” works when they are young, helps them shatter the myth that mom can purchase anything she desires if she just has a “card.”
4. We open up a savings account for each of our children
It’s important that we guide them in determining what percentage of their money to save, spend and give away/tithe. Many sources recommend beginning with “save 10%, give/tithe 10% and spend 80%.” Since we desire our children to not only be debt free, but also generous givers, we encourage them to save and give more than the recommended amounts. This instills a greater understanding of financial stewardship and cultivates a spirit of generosity.
Issues of financial stewardship have become increasingly important as our boys have been hired to work outside the home, Not only are they learning that a hard work ethic is rewarded, but they need to be personally accountable in how much to save and give.
5. For the younger children, we give “spending opportunities” that allow each child to determine their perceived value and price of an item. I often take one of my children yard sale-ing with me. The “date day child” is given a few dollars to spend on what ever he/she chooses. At the first stop, it never fails that my five year old daughter finds something she wants to buy. This is my opportunity to walk her through some money saving skills.
Our conversation typically goes something like this.
Me: “Are you sure you need this purse? We will be going to lots of yard sales today”
Dear Daughter: “Oh yes, mommy. I must have it. It’s the cutest purse ever.” (She has ten of those, by the way.)
Me: “Are you sure you want to spend your $3 all at one time? You may be able to find another one for less?
DD: “No, I want this one…it’s my favorite.”
Me: “Ok, but once you make this purchase, then your money is gone. That is all the money in your budget for yard sales.
DD: “Oh, yes, I understand. Thank you so much, Mom.”
Now in a perfect world, I would tell you that she didn’t ask for any more money, had a grateful attitude, and completely learned her lesson when she found the same purse for $.50 at another yard sale. (She honestly did – the EXACT same purse for less.) Well, it’s not a perfect world, but it was a perfect opportunity to teach a life lesson on instant gratification, and impulse buying. With a few of those teachable moments under her belt, she is now a much savvier shopper, and has actually learned how to comparison shop.
This is just the beginning of an exhaustive list we’ve begun implementing in our family’s quest in raising “Money Saving Kids.”
Joy can be found in the challenging journey of balancing the budget. Training our children to understand the freedom that comes from debt free living is a gift that will continue for generations to come. I, for one, am blessed that this legacy was passed to me, and that this knowledge I can now pass onto my children.
How they live it out will be their choice, but I will make sure and give them the necessary tools to implement it if they desire.
Great post. We have taught both our girls to be responsible with their money. Our oldest (15 1/2) is very responsible with her money and I’m so proud of her. Our youngest (11) does very well too. They think through any purchases and always shop for sales. They are givers and get a joy out of blessing others.
I’m trying to make our 3 year old aware and well that’s hard with a 3 year old. Any advice on how to approach it when they are that small would be great. So far I’ve taught him that he has to be responsible for items that aren’t his (ex: library books) and to take care of things so that they last. He damaged a library book, after specifically being told not mess with the plastic cover. So, he had to turn the book in to the library himself and when we received the bill he helped me get the money out of his piggy bank and had to pay the library. I explained that if he took care of things then he would not have to replace them and he could have spent his money on a toy/treat instead of paying the library.
Fantastic post! It’s is absolutely necessary for parents to educate their children about the responsibilty that SHOULD come with money. This is not something that they will learn in school to a degree that it will impact them sufficiently. You made some great points in this article and it reminds me to CONTINUE to have discussions with my kids about it. It’s funny that whenever my kids ask me for something, I say, “You have money, why don’t you buy it?” They usually say nevermind, unless they really really want it. It’s helps them appreciate the item that much more once they buy it.
This is a bit long, but please read it as it is so important! (This keeps getting kicked back as spam, but I don’t know why! I just don’t want others to have to learn the super hard way as I did!)
As responsible as you are to be debt free, I do hope you will remember that credit scores will be important to your children. I learned this the hard way as my parents had a bad time with credit cards, ran up debt, and so they only preached about how evil they were. I listened. I paid for everything in cash (I joined the military from high school because they would not help me pay for school in any way). However, when it came time to rent an apartment in the U.S., no one would rent to me! I was on active duty, just back from combat, with $30k in the bank!! I saved from being overseas–but because I did not meet their minimum credit score–no credit was worse than bad credit, I had to live on base until I built up my credit score (with a card loan and a credit card) enough to rent an apartment or buy a house. My dad thought this was impossible as he is from a small town, but in the cities, needing credit to rent is the norm. So, in case anyone is not aware of how important credit is–please make sure your children know! I do live debt-free now, except for my mortgage, but I still use and pay off a credit card monthly and keep a few open to keep my credit as good as possible.
Thanks for sharing your experience. I think things have really changed since then, so while I don’t think it’s important like it was a few years ago, I appreciate you sharing, even if I disagree. Dave Ramsey addresses this very topic really thoroughly, it’s interesting to dive into.
This is a great post. My little guy is only 1 but it’s never too soon to start to think about how to educate him with regards to money. Thanks for these great thoughts.
What a great article. I cannot tell you how many spoiled kids I see nowadays. Colleagues of mine complain about their kids going over on texting,etc, but they don’t set any boundaries. We held out for a long time before we gave our oldest a cell phone (definitely that need vs want conversation in #1!) and when we did we went with straight talk for $30 a month. She gets 1000 minutes and 1000 texts and that is plenty and she knows when she is out she is out. We also are trying to teach her to budget her money from baby-sitting and also to save for things now. This is so important today with families in our country in debt crisis. It is never to early to learn.
Very important. I have my children save a portion of any gifts of money they receive and their allowance. A savings account is very important for children. It’s important for children to learn how to save and budget at a young age.
My DH is learning about the value of money. If there is something she really has to have and she already has 10 of the same thing, she is allowed to buy it with her own money. This way she learns that things don’t come for free and she is more able to budget her funds.