How I Taught My Child the Value of Money
posted by: Guest Blogger
My son has always been interested in money, from coin collections to creating random businesses with his friends. He’s saver by nature, but I’ve honed his skills by weaving lessons about money into everyday life. Here is what worked for me:
Most kids love to play store. Encourage it. My son “sold” me everything in the house, from cereal boxes in the pantry to plastic broccoli in his little play kitchen. It got me thinking about other ways to teach him not just about money, but assigning value to things and, most importantly, learning that money is a finite resource.
With the average American’s credit card debt nearing $16,000, our kids are in desperate need of financial education: saving, emergency funds, and living within their means. I started my son at age 8 with an old school piggy bank. He now gets his spending allowance on a reloadable debit card, and must track the income and spending with a check register.
Put Them in Charge
Give your younger child a few dollars and give them parameters on how to spend it: healthy snacks at the grocery store, craft items at the dollar store or toys at a yard sale. You’ll save to supervise carefully, of course, but they learn to make choices.
Teaching Couponing Habits
I have my son go through our Valpak envelope every month and pick the deals that would benefit our family. I have him clip coupons from the Sunday circulars based on items we buy. Matching them up becomes a treasure hunt. If he wants something online, he is required to Google it first and see if there are promo codes or discounts for it. Even if you don’t like to coupon, make it child’s play.
Grocery Shopping – A Lesson in Pricing
My son now does much of our grocery shopping. He has the list, a calculator, and a pre-set amount. What we buy must always fall within the budget. What a feeling of power! While it turns a normally quick shop into a marathon at first, this has proven to be one of the most valuable lessons. Trust me; he never forgot the day he had to choose between putting back milk or candy.
About one night a month is Restaurant Night at our house. My son, and often his friends, create a menu and prepare the food with supervision. It could also be crackers or cookies. They set the table, create place cards (their idea) and assign prices to their fare. The kids love this game!
Aside from chores, lemonade stands and yard sales are a great way to introduce your child to the concept of making money. Supervise the process and get other families involved in helping prepare and sell the goods, and tabulating and distributing the profits. Over the years my son has also sold artwork door to door, washed cars and walked dogs.
We have always been a big fan of board games that teach important lessons about money. Monopoly and Life are two classics worth considering. They teach how money can be made and lost, and how sometimes things beyond our control can create a financial emergency. There are plenty of online games too, run by banks and organizations. The US Mint has a good one.
There are so many everyday teachable moments when it comes to financial literacy. We as parents just need to be willing to start and follow through. In a month my son will be 14, old enough to become a bagger at the local grocery store. He plans to sock the money away for car insurance when he turns 16. I’m glad I’ve gotten him to think that far ahead.
Marie Hickman is a former TV journalist who now writes about saving money, parenting, food and travel. Follow her on Twitter at MrsHickman777 and read her blog posts at http://www.valpak.com/blog/author/mhickman/ and https://mariehickman.contently.com.