As parents, we often sign our kids up for soccer teams, swim, piano or dance lessons. But there aren’t any lessons for them to learn personal finance. My son is in first grade, and he is learning what money is and how much each coin is worth. However, it’s up to us as parents to teach him how to use money and to develop healthy financial habits. As parents, we want our children to be financially fit, and avoid some of our mistakes.
Here’s a few financial habits we can teach our children as part of daily life.
In our family, we give our kids a chance to earn money every week. My eleven-year-old daughter told me that her friends don’t have to earn money: they get allowances. She said that she has the worst life out of them. We value work and want them to understand that they earn money from working. They can earn as many dollars per week as their age. So my five year old can earn $5 per week - $275 per year! However, we struggle to consistently record and consistently have payday. We are going to work on that.
Our kids like to count their money. My younger kids still think every dollar is equal. I explained to my daughter that one $5 bill is worth five $1 bills.
We teach our kids to save for specific goals. Last week we realized it can be nice to have general savings also. My daughter was invited to go to Alaska to attend her cousin’s baptism. Jackie had several hundred dollars saved, and we had a vacation fund. We agreed to match her savings. So, she paid half of the airline tickets, and we paid the other half. When unexpected opportunities arise, it is nice to have some flexibility with our savings. She is so excited because she hasn’t seen this cousin and her family for 9 months, although she says it feels like it's been years. I encouraged my other children to keep saving so that they can take advantage of similar opportunities that they will have.
I love to see my kids give, but I don’t force them to give. We give, and our kids notice. I always let whoever is helping me at the store keep the coin change. While I was busy loading the groceries, my 4-year-old daughter put her change into the donation container, which was sitting on the counter. As we walked away, she exclaimed, “I gave money to help the sick people in the hospital!” That warmed my heart.
Shopping gives me so many chances to teach my kids about money. I don’t always take kids shopping because it takes 3 times longer, and it is very tiring. For example, last Monday, we went shopping as a family activity. Our boys ran around the store fighting. But, shopping with kids is worth it because of the teaching opportunities it brings. As we shop and see a lot of cool things, my young kids usually ask to get them. I often reply, “It’s not on the list.” My four year old isn’t the only one that struggles with this. I often want to buy things that are not on the list. She happily tells me, “It’s not on the list.” This is teaching them, and me, to prioritize and to use self control.
At the end of the shopping trip, I let the kids pay for the groceries. I was with my five-year-old last week. The total was 19.56. He paid with a twenty dollar bill. The cashier asked if he would get some change. He said, “No.” That opened up a conversation afterwards. We discussed which one is greater: $20 or $19. I really appreciate that patient cashier who help teach my child. Through this, he is learning the value of money.
We went to Walgreens to pick up some pictures. I let Chloe (4) and her friend look at all the Easter toys. She wanted to buy a stuffed animal. I showed her how much it cost, and explained that she could bring her money back to get it. She asked, “Can we come back today?” I told her that we probably could. We completely forgot about the item that she wanted. I didn’t remember about it until I wrote this post! This experience taught patience and focus.
My oldest daughter has her own library card and checks out her books. She told me she had a $2 fine and she was bringing a five dollar bill. We rode our bikes to the library, and she paid her fine. She is learning responsibility.
All of these stories I mentioned happened in just one week’s time. What money teaching moments have you had in the past week?
Life gives so many chances to teach our kids about handling money and to help them develop good financial habits. As I teach them, I also learn from them and with them. It can be tiring. Being consistent is challenging, but we’re succeeding as long as we keep trying!
Everyday life gives us opportunities to teach others by using money. Here are a few we have had this month.
My daughter loves playing basketball. She plays at recess with the boys in her grade. On Saturday, we went to the last game of the season for her recreation team. She has been invited to play on a competition team. Jackie and I discussed how much time and money it would cost her. We decided that playing on this team would be good for her. I asked when the fee was due. Her coach (who knows me well) said that if I needed to wait to budget for it, that was fine. I told her that I was letting Jackie pay for it. I pay for some of their wants, but this one I thought she would appreciate more if she paid for it.
I withdrew money from Jackie’s account for the competition team fee. Then I withdrew the amounts for their paydays from my account. Wesley (8), said, “Hey, you aren’t really paying us. You are just taking money out of our accounts and giving it to us.” After I laughed, I explained bank accounts and how they all had account numbers and I used different account numbers for each withdrawal.
This is the first year Tommy (6) has eaten lunch at school. He prefers school lunch to packing his own lunch. He often left his lunch at home, so he went through his lunch money fast. I told him his balance was low, so he needed to pack his lunch to take until I paid more lunch money. He didn’t listen to me, and his account went negative. I told him that it wasn’t honest to eat without paying, but he didn’t understand. He responded, “No, it’s free.” In this electronic age, there is often a disconnect with what things cost. I remember taking my lunch money, and knew that I had to pay.
Fast forward a few months, and a neighbor posted on Facebook about her son not being able to eat because of low lunch money. That reminded me to pay for lunch since the balance was getting low again. I sent lunch money with my ten year old. Her dad asked if she had paid it, and she said yes. But I keep getting emails about low lunch money- especially for her and my school lunch loving first grader. So, I asked her again if she paid. She said, “I thought I did.” But then on Saturday, she found her lunch money in her backpack. These simple experiences are helping them learn responsibility.
This was a recent conversation between my kids. Chloe (4) said, “Santa is going to bring me a tramp.” Jackie (10) replied, ”First of all, it won’t fit in his bag. Second of all, it won’t fit in his sleigh. Third of all, it won’t fit under the tree.” My four year old replied, “It’s going to be a little tramp.” She has since changed her request. She is now asking for, “A talking dog that talks like us.” Where is Clifford when you need him?
Chloe is often my shopping buddy these days. She usually wants so many things every time that we shop. While we were waiting in the checkout line last week, she saw a Tootsie Roll Bank. She said she wanted it, and I told her no. I showed her how much it cost. I taught her what the dollar sign looks like and then talked about how it was $1. I told her that she had money to pay for things like that. She didn’t have her money with her and delaying her immediate gratification was hard.
Jackie (10) and Wes (8) decided what they were going to give everyone for Christmas. They have been earning their money so that they can buy their gifts. We went to to the Dollar Store. Jackie bought presents for each member of the family and for each member of her class. She also wrote a poem to go with each of the presents. My kids went to the checkstand before I was ready and backed up the line. Even though shopping was chaotic, thinking about their giving hearts is making me cry as I write this.
What experiences have you had teaching about life through money?
Last week my kids learned a lot of life lessons through everyday experiences spending money.
Wes (age 7) asked me to hand him his bank so he could pay for a school library book that he had lost. (I don’t receive any notices from the school library like I do from the public library, so I didn’t know he had an overdue book.) Over the past few years, we have paid plenty of library fines. One time, our kids left a Dora book in the sandbox, which got ruined. I took them to the library, held my daughter up, gave her money, and let her pay the fine. Sometimes they paid with their money and other times they paid with mine. Through those experiences, Wes learned that he was responsible for the book that he checked out at the library.
Last week I took my two youngest kids to the store to buy mice traps after seeing two mice in my house. As I helped Chloe (age 4) out of the car, I noticed her chewing something, and pried open her clenched fist to find a salt water taffy wrapper. She had snuck it. This was not a convenient time to have a lesson on honesty. I needed to clean the house and trap the mice. I explained that Cravens do not steal, and taking taffy without paying is stealing from the store. If she did that as an adult, the consequence would be to go to jail. So, we went back to the store. Chloe clung to me while I told the cashier that Chloe stole a taffy and needed to pay for it. She had Chloe pay two cents. I told my daughter we loved her and that it’s ok to make mistakes because that’s how we learn. She paid her two cents and smiled at the cashier.
I explained that Cravens do not steal, and taking taffy without paying is stealing from the store. If she did that as an adult, the consequence would be to go to jail. So, we went back to the store. Chloe clung to me while I told the cashier that Chloe stole a taffy and needed to pay for it. She had Chloe pay two cents. I told my daughter we loved her and that it’s ok to make mistakes because that’s how we learn. She paid her two cents and smiled at the cashier.
Jackie (age 10) told me that the book fair was going on and it was buy one get one free, which was a great deal. I explained that I hadn’t planned to buy books, but she could spend her money. I reminded her that she’s been saving her money for souvenirs for our summer vacation in Hawaii, and she may want to check books out from the library instead of buying them. In the end, she decided not to buy the books.
Wes is always asking how much things cost. He often asks people how much things cost. While I was talking to Jackie about a possible summer art camp, he asked how much it was and how long it was.
I’m not always consistent. It’s easier to pay for library fines online rather than go in and help the kids pay their own fines. Money is helping me teach my kids to start to learn life lessons about responsibility, honesty, achieving goals, and opportunity. Kids have chances to learn these life lessons while they are small, and the consequences are small. Hopefully it will save them from having painful consequences as an adult.
My family is so glad that Spring is here (even though it did snow last week). On Saturday, Ty took our kids shopping for flowers and they all got to pick some that they liked. Then, they all came home and helped him plant them.
Over the past 10 years, we have taught our kids how to handle money by involving them in much the same way that he involved them in planting flowers.
Kids need a chance to earn money by working. Ty makes work enjoyable. The kids had fun planting the flowers, but it was work, and at the end of the day, Jackie and the other kids told me they were tired.
We have little opportunities to do this almost every day. Last week, I needed to clean out the freezer. I asked My two youngest kids if they wanted to earn a dollar by helping me sort all the food. My 3 year-old chose to play, but my 5 year-old chose to help me and earn $1.
Little by little, we prepare kids for adulthood by teaching them that they need to work in order to earn money. We also pay our kids for some chores around the house, and if they don’t do the chore, they don’t get paid. One day last week, the garbage was overflowing. I took it out and told my son that he wouldn’t get paid for that chore that day, but he would have another chance soon since we go through a lot of garbage. If they don’t mark their charts, they don’t get paid for that chore. This is also preparing them for adulthood. If my husband doesn’t turn in his time sheet, he doesn’t get paid. If companies don’t send invoices, they don’t get paid.
Just like my husband took our kids to the store to buy the plants. We take our kids to the bank to see how to deposit and save money. We also have bank buckets at home. (They were buckets full of honey that we turned into banks). Until we make a trip to the bank, their money is in their bucket, and they like to count it and see it grow every time they put money into it.
Chances for giving are both planned and unplanned. We teach our kids to pay a tithing to their church. But, we also look for chances to give to people around us in need. A couple of weeks ago I asked all of the kids to donate one item for a garage sale to raise money for a friend. My daughter donated one of her purses. My son donated some clothes. At school, they were raising money for one of the staff member’s sons who was going through many surgeries, so my daughter raised some money to donate to them. We have a lot of fun finding opportunities to give. Around St. Patrick’s Day, we donated a dollar at the grocery store, and they got to write their names on a four leaf clover. They had a great time.
My husband took the kids to Lowe’s to buy the plants on Saturday, and I took them to the dollar store on Friday. My daughter brought her own money and planned to buy something. I was buying all the kids a treat, but she insisted on buying her own. I told her that I would buy hers, but she insisted on it. I was proud of her for learning how to spend money wisely and be independent. From the time they are really little, I let my kids pay for things at the store and learn how to order food at a restaurant, pay for it, and receive change.
Just like teaching kids to plant flowers, we teach them to earn money through working. Then, we use that money to save, share, and spend. Please share your experiences teaching kids these financial skills in the comments below.
Did you know? Wasatch Peaks has a great program for teaching kids all about how to Save, Share & Spend. It's called the MONEY MOOSE™ Kids Club and it's a fun way to help kids learn to be financially fit. For more information on how to join, visit wasatchpeaks.com today!
My kids tell me all the time that I’m not consistent. They start out with the phrase, “Remember that one time………….” Next time I’m going to reply, “Remember the 100 times that…………..”
Ty and I teach our children to work, earn money, save towards a goal, and purchase what they saved for. Every Monday is Payday. I have tried every possible chart, method, and incentive. This has been a discouraging process for me because it has been so challenging for us to be consistent. Kids need consistency and they need repetition to learn. My family often forgets to mark the kids charts. If we did remember to mark them, we might forget payday. Or, I forget to withdraw money from the bank to pay them. The big containers I bought for their banks got ruined and their money was lost when they played with them. I felt like we were failing.
One day on Dave Ramsey’s show he talked about his experience teaching his kids to work, save and spend. He sells systems to do this and is considered an expert, but he said that they were often irregular and inconsistent–but they kept trying and their kids still learned. That encouraged me and gave me hope to keep trying.
We have had small successes this week. Wesley (my 7 year-old) asked me to get his money bucket down. He told me, “I only need 9 more dollars until I can buy my drone.) He also told me that Grandpa paid him a dollar for shoveling snow. He said, “I could have earned $50 if I cleared all the snow off Grandpa’s deck.” I’m grateful to Grandpa for helping me teach these lessons to my kids.
We have been inconsistent with helping the kids pay their tithing. It’s challenging to get the 10 cents of tithing to our church, so they only paid it once last year. We made a goal to pay their tithing monthly this year and came up with a system to collect the tithing throughout the month. (We still have forgotten to take the envelopes to church.) Last week, Wes said he wanted to give 15 cents, when tithing was 5 cents. I told him that was more than 10%, thinking that he had calculated it wrong, but I should have known better. He is very precise, and he told me he just wanted to give more.
My advice to parents, including myself is don’t give up. Keep trying. Consistency isn't equal to perfection, it equals practice. Just like it takes years to learn to play the piano or to play basketball, it takes years to learn to manage money. Celebrate the victories!!!!!!!!!!!!! What are some successes your kids have had? Teaching kids these things takes so much repetition. It’s worth it though because they learn money lessons, and they make money mistakes on small levels when they are young.
Wasatch Peaks has a resource page to help us all teach children lessons about money. Last year, my kids got to meet MONEY MOO$E, which was a lot of fun for them. This program looks like a fun way for them to save money. We’re going to sign them up and I’ll share how it goes in future blog posts.
Last year, Wasatch Peaks Credit Union donated 567 pairs of new Nike® shoes to school children from eight local elementary schools in Weber County as part of their annual “Warm the Soles” fundraising campaign. Thanks to the generosity of members like you, $15,833.00 was raised for this excellent and very worthy cause. Local children in need were given a gift-wrapped pair of Nike® athletic shoes and a little stocking filled with candy. Wasatch Peaks Credit Union is looking forward warming the soles of local kids this holiday season!
Any contribution you can make will warm the soles of children in our local community whether it’s $5, $10, $30 or more! There are many ways to give:
My kids are in school, which has made me think about classes I would like to take: photography and swimming - IF I can find time and money to take them!. I’ve realized that there are everyday opportunities for teaching personal finance lessons to those around us. Life is the classroom for these lessons. This past month I have had so many chances to teach my kids pf lessons in everyday life...
Every morning before school our kids have to clean their room. While my son was cleaning, he asked, “How much money would I get paid for cleaning my room.” I told him that he would get paid one dollar per week for cleaning his room. By doing his chores, he is starting to connect working to getting paid.
During snack time, that same son tried to persuade me to buy different kinds of pickles, and he told me that the smaller jar of pickles cost less money. I explained how the small jar was more expensive per ounce than the big jar.
Delaying Gratification/Budgeting Lesson
While shopping, My son got upset in the store when I wouldn’t buy him a Rubix Cube. He said, “I have money.” I explained that the money he had was set aside for school supplies–not for toys. He got upset about that. Later that day, we told Grandma about the incident, and his grandma said that she would look for a used cube at the Deseret Industries. That gave us a chance to explain how much money can be saved if he can buy something used instead of something brand new.
We have generous family who lets us use their nice cabin anytime we want to stay there. My 5-year-old and I were cleaning the bathroom, and he asked me, “Do I get paid for this?” I told him that was good that he realized that we get paid for working. I explained however, that we don’t get paid for everything that we do. I told him how blessed we were to get to use this cabin, and the only thing we need to do is to respect it and clean it up after we are done. We don’t need to be paid with money because we already were paid with a great place to stay for the weekend.
These experiences are often unplanned, and even inconvenient–which is not natural for me to patiently take the time to teach them, so I’m learning to stop and take the opportunity to teach. If I told my 7-year-old that we were going to have a delayed gratification lesson, it would bore him. It works much better to use examples from his life.
Now, I’ve just got to figure out how to learn swimming and photography in my everyday life!!!
My 7 year-old has had a few meltdowns because I took away his Nintendo DS system a few weeks ago. He doesn’t want to work. He just wants to play that or watch movies and only wants to do,“fun jobs.” (For him, this includes mowing the lawn: it is still a novelty.) He is capable of doing a lot of work but needs guidance. Yesterday, he and his sister were doing a good job at cleaning the floor until they started fighting and sprayed each other with the wood cleaner.
On our way to get haircuts he said he didn’t want to get a haircut (trying to get back at me for not giving him his DS). We had a chat when we arrived and he calmed down. I told him clearly what he would have to do to get his DS back: learn to work hard and be respectful. Then I gave him a piggyback ride into get haircuts.
My 9 year-old daughter is a reader, like me. She will read all day if she can. This is a great trait, but she also doesn’t want to work. However, she is starting to understand the value of working. She is learning that work is how she can earn money. She has a job chart for the jobs she gets paid to do, and she has been very good about marking it the last two weeks and reporting to me that she, "Did her jobs and marked her chart.” Today, we will have payday.
We have pressure canned 63 quarts of beans. My in-laws grew the beans, and we picked them and snapped them while they were on vacation. One of my children thought that Grandma and Grandpa must have gone on vacation to avoid all the work of picking the beans. We explained that a lot more work went into planting, watering, and weeding, and that we were lucky to just get the harvesting job. My husband told our kids that as a kid he spent hours snapping beans under their peach tree not watching a movie like we got to do. The kids asked why he snapped them outside, and he said it was cooler than snapping them inside because there was no air-conditioning. The kids were shocked and asked why there was no air conditioning. He said that they couldn’t afford air conditioning because it cost a lot of money.
I am not much different from my kids in that I enjoy watching movies and reading novels. However, there is so much work to do that I rarely have time to do those things. My husband truly enjoys working, especially working in the yard. It is enjoyable and relaxing for him, and he has rubbed off on me. Work always feels good afterwards. Work helps me appreciate things. When I snip, wash, prepare, and pressure cook beans, I appreciate every bite and don’t want any to go to waste.
I love Wasatch Peaks' motto: Reach Your Peak. It takes a lot of work to reach our financial goals, but the view is worth the climb and the work pays off.
Hey kids! Have you opened your MONEY MOO$E Kids Club Savings Account? It’s easy! Stop by any of our branches with your grown-up and get started today. When you open your account, you’ll receive:
Every time you deposit money into your savings account, you’ll be entered into a quarterly drawing. Prizes will include a Save, Share or Spend coin bank to help you build your savings at home. We’re looking forward to seeing you soon and helping you Save, Share and Spend with your MONEY MOO$E Kids Club Account. For more information, visit us online at wasatchpeaks.com/kidsclub.
Sharpen Your Savings Skills
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