My only childhood memories of money management were when my Dad sat down to pay the bills. It was never good. When my brothers and I saw him with the checkbook open we would avoid him for a good couple of days.
Everything I’ve learned about money has been self-taught.
Being from a family where money management wasn’t brought up I want to do the opposite for my kids. But in a way that makes a lasting impact. And in a way that doesn’t manipulate my children into thinking that money is the be-all, end-all of the world.
No lecturing. No scolding. No shame. I prefer a hands on approach that slowly teaches my children good habits that will stick with them forever.
Here are the three main ways I teach my kids about money management.
I Let Them “Work” for Money
I give both of my kids the opportunity to earn their own money. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not handing out dollars for every miniscule little chore. If they make a mess in the middle of the living room I expect them to clean it up.
It’s the extra jobs they get paid for. If I’m cleaning the entire house I might assign each child a room to clean for two dollars. They also both have the option to say “yes” or “no.”
Kailyn always says yes. Only about half the time will Ava work for money.
Because of this Kailyn’s savings has grown to a larger amount than Ava’s. Every time Ava complains that Kailyn has more money, I simply remind her that Kailyn worked for that money. That usually ends the conversation.
I’ve Taught Them to Save
The girls’ babysitter gifted each of the girls’ $25 gift cards to Build-a-Bear last year. We went shortly after Christmas. Each girl created their bear and loved the process. When we got to the checkout my mouth dropped to the floor. Each bear, clothed in one outfit, was $50.
Kailyn has been wanting to go again ever since. But me? I just can’t jusify the cost. So instead we compromised. I told her that if she saved $50 I’d take her back to spend her own money.
That’s what she’s been doing ever since.
She’s now made it to $38 dollars but her goal has changed. Instead of spending $50 at Build-a-Bear she now wants to reach $100 before deciding what to spend her money on.
I’m not pressuring her at all but I’ve got to admit; I’m pretty habit with the decision she made.
Ava on the other hand isn’t so goal oriented. She’s more than happy to tuck her money into her piggy bank but she just follows Kailyn’s lead.
They Get Hands on Spending Experiences
Earlier this summer both girls took $9 out of their piggy banks to spend at the flea market. I let them have total control over the way they spent their money.
It was so neat to see how different they were when it came to this.
Ava quickly found what she wanted – a new Hello Kitty Cup, a ball, and a doctor’s kit. I expected her to change her mind a hundred times and complain that she had spent all her money. But she didn’t. She was so happy with her purchases. In fact that Hello Kitty cup is still her absolute favorite.
Kailyn on the other hand scrutinized every purchase. She had only spent a couple dollars by the time we were ready to leave. She made one last purchase before we left and took the remainder of her money back home with her.
If you can tell my two daughters have completely different approaches to money. But I don’t think either are right or wrong. There’s no one size fits all solution.
The best thing you can do incorporate hands on lessons into everyday life. Then just let your kids learn as they go. Act as a guide, not a dictator.
If you don’t let your kids make mistakes they’ll never learn.