This is a guest post from Jessica of The Debt Princess. Jessica is talented personal finance writer who shares her advice of “what NOT to do” when it comes to debt reduction and equity rebuilding.
If your kids are anything like mine were two years ago, money burns a hole in their pockets. As soon as my children earned $5 or $1 and sometimes even just 50 cents, they were asking to go to the store. They didn’t know how to save their money for anything.
What was even worse, in my opinion was that when they did spend their money it was on things that were cheap. My kids bought toys that broke immediately, ones that bored them after the first play and even tried to buy candy numerous times. They were so desperate to spend their money that they’d buy anything they could with the money they had.
When my youngest son found a penny on the ground and wanted to head to the store immediately, I knew I needed to show them how to save their money for the future and to buy items they really want. Armed with the tips and tricks you are about to read about, I was able to change my children’s spending habits and create an understanding of the value in waiting, the benefit of looking for deals and the difference between a want and a need. Read on for my top 4 ways to teach kids how to save money and have a little fun while doing it.
Give them an Allowance
If you want to teach your children how to save (and spend) money then you are going to have to give them some to do it with. A quick search on Pinterest will show you a large variety of chore charts, pay structures and tips on the best way to give kids an allowance. You could pay per chore. Or you could do as I do and pay a set amount each week.
I give my children $1 for each year of their life (you could do 50 cents if it makes more sense to you) per week (you may find that per month works better). They are required to do what I ask, when I ask it plus a couple of other daily chores. We don’t have a chart or any way of keeping track. I ask them to do something, they do it or get reminded of how allowances work. It works for us, you may find something different that works for your family. Make it as simple as possible though, anything too complex becomes a waste of time for everyone involved.
Now that your children have an allowance and you have a system in place for chores or how you are paying them, you need to show them where the money should go. You need to treat their money the same way you would treat your own.
Put Them on a Budget
Budgeting your paycheck, whether you are 5 or 45 is an important step in financial health. Creating the budget that works for you may take time but setting one up for your kids shouldn’t be too difficult.
Figure out the breakdown that works for you and your kids. I suggest that 50% of their allowance go into savings, 40% go into spending and 10% go into a give fund. You may feel that 40% is too much for children to spend or that you want them to donate or tithe more than 10%. Find the ratio that works best for you and set it in place.
My children have three separate piggy banks labeled for each fund and each week we work together on dividing the money up. We talk about what they are saving their 50% for and in our family it’s for the future. It may be a car when they turn 16, college when they graduate high school or even for when they are older and want to retire, whatever it may be, it’s for a future expense that is slightly less tangible than the other funds.
The give fund is for giving away. Whether you give to your church or a charity, I think it’s important to consider helping out others. My children each have a charity of their choice (chosen based on their own interests) that they give their money to. My oldest has been the highest fundraiser at his school on two occasions for the American Heart Association and this is an organization he really likes supporting. My youngest loves animals so he donates his give money to our local humane society once a year. This is a great lesson on how small amounts of money saved over the course of the year can lead to one big donation that really helps.
The spend fund is where your children are going to really learn how to save money. With this fund, they are going to watch their 40% grow into a larger amount so that they can buy something they really want for themselves. Don’t worry if this doesn’t happen right away and they still try to spend it quickly, we are going to work on that in the next steps.
For the remaining two tips on how to teach kids to save money, head over to The Debt Princess to continue reading.