At some point, squeezed between Goldfish and Goldilocks, my parents taught me how to be a money-savvy lady.
Our teachers school us in American history. Our friends help us deal with the ups and downs of first loves. But moms? You teach us how to seriously master our money.
And that’s priceless.
These four simple, money lessons perfect for young kids are easy peasy, and being the money-savvy mom that you are, you’ll master them in no time.
1. Learn how to create a budget
OK, so your sweet angels might not have to pay for rent or groceries quite yet. But teaching kids how to budget effectively from an early age will have a profound and positive impact when they finally get cribs of their own. Budgeting lays the foundation as to how they’ll eventually manage their own money one day.
As the parent, determine how much you’re comfortable giving your child as a weekly allowance. Some experts recommend giving your child $1 for every age that child is, so your 6-year-old will receive $6 a week, and your 13-year-old will get $13 a week. However, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all rule, so take some time to reflect on how much you personally feel comfortable with.
Now that they have some cash to play with, your child can start learning the basics of budgeting. Designate three separate jars to three different categories your child’s budget should consist of: saving, spending and giving. Pay your child in small bills or coins so he or she can divvy up the money. Of course, you’ll guide them through how much should be placed in each jar.
How you should actually slice that money up differs from parent to parent, but the important part of this barebones budget is that it will help teach your child about the value of a dollar, how to make choices and how to prioritize.
2. Deal with spending consequences
Your kids may want to use the money in their “spend” jars on another fidget spinner. *Sigh.*
This is where it can get especially difficult; you’re going to have to let them make that spending decision, even if you disagree. They may even cry when they don’t have any money left for Minecraft, but it’s important not to cave.
Seeing your child in tears is heartbreaking, but what’s even more sad is when your child turns into a 20-something who moved back home because he or she spent their rent money on a new Xbox. Every spending decision has a consequence, so the sooner your kid can learn that lesson, the better off they’ll be.
3. Give them the opportunity to earn more
Worried your kid will hit you with an invoice the next time you ask him to make his bed?
Tying household chores too closely to your allowance structure can be a slippery slope. While you want to teach your children that money has to be earned, you also want them to understand that contributing to the household is part of their unpaid role in the family.
Consider having a list of chores your child will get paid for and then a separate list of tasks they are just expected to do—for free. Then, create a third set of voluntary chores your child can tackle to receive extra money.
This will teach your kids that hard work literally pays off, and it allows them to save for special purchases. That Barbie Dreamhouse is just a few extra dirty dishes away.
4. Delay gratification
Be sure to use the cash in your child’s “savings” jar as true savings; aka, it’s not to be spent in the near future, no matter how much he or she begs or pleads.
Start building your kids’ saving muscles by making sure that their “savings” jars are not used as “delayed spending” money. This means that money that’s meant to be spent on a toy next Tuesday should be put in the “spending” jar, instead. Use that “savings” jar for longer-term goals, like Dad’s birthday present in six months or souvenirs on next summer’s trip to Disney.
Saving money requires patience and self-discipline, two qualities every kid should get a good grasp on at an early age. Help your child tackle the basics of budgeting, saving and spending and one day, when they’re on their own on solid financial footing, all that parenting will seriously have paid off.
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