“I want your phone,” declares my two-year-old after breakfast.
“No,” I respond.
“I want your phone,” she reiterates. Again, she’s met with a resounding no. She decides to move on.
“I want your tablet,” she counters, hoping to get a rise out of me. Even more so, she asks hoping that I give her something to stop her requests.
Smartphones, tablets, game consoles, and other expensive toys have dominated our children’s lives in the past few years and the anticipated costs of raising children will continue to rise as their “toys” become increasingly luxurious.
But how do you make the children more responsible? How do you help them understand the value of their (and your) things?
You make them pay.
No, not really, but you help them understand the value of a dollar, help them save and teach them to spend.
How? Here are three steps to help your children understand a value of a dollar and get a grounding in finance for kids.
Give them money to save
By the time most children are adults, they may have received a few dollars from birthdays and Christmases. The few realize that this is the only money they will receive for a while. The majority will immediately start planning all of the money they want to spend.
How do you combat that? You give them money regularly.
Whether it’s an allowance or chore-based, children have to understand that it’s not feast or famine. A habitual paycheck will net you major gains. The regularity will help show that they don’t have to spend every dollar because there’s another one around the corner.
Buy a special piggy bank
Kids are fascinated with cool things. Why not make saving cool with a special piggy bank which inspires them to want to fill it up.
My youngest loves Hello Kitty, the middle loves Minnie Mouse and the eldest is into anime.
Therefore, I have a Hello Kitty piggy bank, a Disney piggy bank and well, a plain green piggy bank because, well, my eldest is 12 and not swayed by gimmicks anymore.
Separate savings from spending
It’s tempting to have your child put all of their money in their piggy bank. Doing so enforces that whenever they need something, they should use their savings. That should not be the case. Their savings should be for a “rainy day” or a “specialty buy” and you should treat it as such.
In our house, we have (1) a short-term goal savings, (2) long-term goal savings and (3) a spending fund. Whenever they want something today, they can dig into the spending. If it’s something they really want, it has to be designated as the short-term (smaller purchases) or long term (larger purchases).
For the little ones (under five), we keep it simple, dividing it into two categories: saving and spending. Still reinforcing that they should not be spending every dollar they receive and encouraging that they should save something.
Crack, followed by an “Oops,” is the tale of many parents. The average smartphone screen cracks within the first 10 days of use. And children’s fingers are slippery. Between the cost of the device and the cost of the repair, one gift could easily cost a thousand dollars, but these tips begin to reinforce grown up money management concepts in a way that kids can understand and relate to.
It works for us—what do you do to encourage your children to save money?