Ever since I was a child, I remember being like Scrooge McDuck and counting my money all the time. I would dump bills and change out of my Easter Tootsie Roll container and out onto the kitchen table, and count it down to the last penny. I would then put a piece of paper in the top so I could remember exactly what I had in there ( even though I would recount the balance every single time. There was some kind of accomplishment I felt in writing it down– this was my money.
I still remember going into Kay-Bee toys to purchase something, or our local Roaring Spring Department store to buy some embroidery thread for friendship bracelets. I loved it when my parents paid, but there was always something special about me footing the bill and understanding just how long it took to save up that allowance money and what it meant to spend my own.
Fast forward a few years…or decades….. and my kids had their own money jammed into tootsie roll containers. Money is a topic of conversation daily it seems, and now that I am in the midst of reading “Smart Women Finish Rich” by David Bach, it was time to take more action that just telling them that they should save some for when they want something large. One of the first and larger principles in this book is that you can’t plan for the future and your investments if you don’t know where you are today. Duh. Palm to the forehead commences.
Santa had brought some banks a few years ago that had been sitting up in their coat cubbies – it was time to pull them out. Also, if I had to guess where Santa got them, I would guess it was from somewhere like here. They are heavy duty, fun, easy to open and even have balance sheets inside each of them so kids can track their money in real time and start on learning the basics for when they are older.
We started with gathering all of the money from banks, wallets, dresser drawers etc. The amount of single dollars bills was insane!
Next, we got the bank out and started going through the 3 main things to do with the money and what they each meant: Spend, Save, Share.
Spend – This is obvious and what each child wants to do. This is for when the ice cream truck comes around the neighborhood ( yes, we still have those here ) or when their obsession with Pokemon cards is out of hand and mom isn’t paying anymore
Save – This is for the long term goal – the big purchases like video games or a Messi jersey. If you are like my daughter, who is 7, she says it is for college and when she gets her first car ( but we will see if that happens haha)
Share– This is for us to be honored enough to be able to give some of the money we have to those that may need it such as buying food for food banks or donating to a Humane Society. This is the one that I thought would take the most explaining because why would a kid instinctively want to give their money away, right? Not at all. I explained that this is just what you do with your money and you need to figure out how much you are comfortable giving.
Obviously, every family and person is different, but what I try to teach my kids is 50% into savings, 10% into give and 40% into spend. This is how I try to live my life as an adult, so it isn’t completely hypocritical, and I think it helps set them up for a balanced future. That being said, my son said he wanted to do 50% save, and then 25% into both give and spend – OK!
If you start them young with the expectation of saving and giving and not just automatically spending their Christmas and Birthday money, you will be amazed at what it does. They will mimic what they see you do as well, so don’t preach giving 50% but spend all your extra money on a new purse and car.
Money is a very personal thing and is essentially a relationship, the same as it is with a person. A bad experience can make it spiral out of control and have bad connotations forever, while a happy and planned relationship can be fruitful for a lifetime! My kids were excited when they saw what they actually had today, and it seemed to give them motivation to do more chores in order to rack up more money. That is a win win if you ask me!
I’d love to hear how you teach your kids about money and any tips you have as they move into the teenage years. Drop me a comment and let me know!