Teaching my kids to be responsible with money is a cornerstone of the foundation I am building for them. I grew up poor, but I learned very early the value of a dollar. By elementary school I understood that buying a toy that lasts for less than a few minutes wasn’t worth all the work I put into earning the cash to pay for it. By the time I was a teenager my mother (a single mom of four) was a full time employee and attending college at night. She entrusted me with the weekly grocery budget. I planned every meal and snack for our family of six, and I learned how to double stack store sales with coupons. That may sound like a lot of responsibility for a teenager. But I never had to work while I was in high school because whatever money I saved in the grocery budget, I got to keep ($30 a week on average). It turned out to be an amazing life lesson.
As a parent I worry how to teach my kids what I learned by doing. Age six is a little too young to clip coupons and meal plan, but I believe they can still be in charge of their own money. Our kids do not earn money for routine chores like dishes, laundry and cleaning their rooms. But we do want them to learn that hard work pays off. So we pay them for more labor intensive jobs like yard work, washing the cars and cleaning up the garage. Over the last year they have each saved up $30! Instead of marching off to the toy store to buy one item, we told them they could have it to spend while we were on vacation. The caveat being they were responsible for purchasing their own souvenirs. Why? Because when mom and dad are buying, they think the sky is the limit. It’s easier to spend someone else’s money when you don’t know how much work went into earning it. Our decision paid off because the girls really thought about their budget when making their selections. They asked about prices and we helped them do the math and talked to them about adding in tax. I am proud of how quickly they accepted the new money rules, and really proud of how well they stuck to their budget.
My friends reactions after hearing this made me feel like maybe I was being a little too strict about money with my young kids. But according to Beth Kobliner, author of Make Your Kid A Money Genius (even if you’re not) this is completely age appropriate, and the first step to helping our kids become money geniuses.
We are already following many of the tips Beth outlines, but one thing we never thought about was including our kids in the weekly discussion of household finances. We are so focused on teaching them what we know vs. allowing them to experience where all our money goes. I honestly did not think that needed to happen until much later. Thankfully, Beth breaks down money concepts kids should know in preschool, elementary school, high school and beyond. There is also a section on how to save and pay for college. I feel like that discussion is so far away, but it will be here before I know it. Thankfully, I’ll be prepared with Beth’s step by step plan.
I also really love that this book includes character building tips surrounding money, like when to donate and how to give generously. I tend to give whatever change I have in my pockets to a Veteran, or sports kid shaking a can outside the grocery store. But I never thought to talk to my kids about why I give. The book begins by outlining how to talk to your kids about money, and each subsequent chapter is broken down into talking about paying off debt, better, smarter, spending how to give back and even smart advice for parents. Which even as good as I am with money there is always room to learn more!
Unless you are already working a job in the world of finance, this book is essential for parents of children ages 3-23! It is the perfect primer for talking to your kids about money concepts at every age and stage. Helping your child understand the value of money and how to use their dollars wisely will set them up for future success!
In what ways have you helped your child become a money genius?
Find Beth on Facebook and Twitter or on her website www.bethkobliner.com/
The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia