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Charity (and Saving) Starts At Home

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Carrying on a tradition from Bryan’s grandmother, Declan’s Grandma has been sending him cards with bits of cash in them for the past year or so. Lately, it’s been 5 dollars since Declan is, well, 5 years old. The only problem with this is now every time Declan gets anything in the mail – he holds it up in the air and shakes it, expecting money to whimsically float past his eyes like a capitalist’s dream.

At first, I will admit we approached the problem the wrong way. We asked Grandma to slow down the money train. Not only did that hurt her feelings, but hello. It stopped the money train.

A few weeks ago, I noticed an article about teaching your child to be money-savvy. And since Bryan and are the furthest thing in the world from money-savvy, I figured we could teach Declan, and in turn he could teach us.

And there were various tips and tricks, to my surprise many of which we already do, but one jumped out of the page at me, given our recent dilemma with Grandma (and other well-meaning and generous relatives who certainly should also continue to contribute to the money train).

The article suggested that you set up 3 jars in a visible place for your child. One marked “Save,” one marked “Charity,” and one marked “Spend.” And any time your child receives money, put 1/2 in Save, 1/4 in Charity and 1/4 in Spend.

When we proposed this plan to our little Greedy Capitalist, I was expecting resistance. But seeing as he gets just as excited over 5 pennies as 5 dollars, now must have been the perfect time to hatch our plan. He was totally fine with the savings plan. And when we explained “charity,” he nearly peed his pants with excitement over all the wild animals and “environments” he could preserve with his money. (That’s my boy!)

And as for the “Spend” money? The list is long. LONG. Because one does not become a reformed Greedy Capitalist overnight.

How do you help your kids learn to save? How do you get them interested in charity?

Author: Aimee

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  • comment avatar Ana February 28, 2008

    What great ideas. And you’re right – just so simple! Admittedly, I have not thought much about this because my kids are so young but you’ve reminded me I need to start!

  • comment avatar Amy February 28, 2008

    When I was little my mom alway gave me money to put in the offering plate at church and in the red kettles around Christmas. We also would “adopt” families throughout the year and give them care packages that we would make up. There was always a culture of giving in our home.

  • comment avatar Joanne February 29, 2008

    The problem I see with this is that $5 does not divide nicely between those 3 jars. I did something similar with my kids. I taught them to tithe off the top (10%), save 25%, and they were free to do with the rest as they wished. (Spend, save, give away, save for a bigger item, blow on candy)

    I was disheartened when some of mine would spend every penny immediately. But it was great, as they learned quickly about instant gratifciation verses waiting. It helped that they had siblings who saved for later and they could see and feel the difference.

    I’ve also implemented something with my nephews on a very small scale. Every time they send me a good old fashioned letter in the mail, I reply and include some amount of dollar bills. It might be 1 or it might be 5-always in single bills. It motivates them to practice their writing skills. They love seeing any dollar come floating out of the envelope.

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