First off, let me say, I’m am not an expert in money, but I am an expert finding ways to not have my kids drive me crazy. Before I had kids, I’d look at kids in stores throwing temper tantrums over a toy and (like every person without kids) thought, “My kids will never be that way.” Remember, this was BEFORE I had kids!
When I did have kids, I immediately started thinking that they needed to have an appreciation of money. I was raised in a middle-class family and we were never hurting for money, but we were way far from rich. My parents gave me an allowance and expected me to save for the things I wanted. They did pay for some things, but they taught me that if I wanted it, I paid for it. The way they raised me is the reason behind my financial security now. I have never paid a finance charge on a credit card, and my only debt is my house and my car. About that car, after I pay off this car, I never want a car payment again! What a waste of money!
To instill these values in my kids, I immediately opened their own savings accounts when they were born. In my family, people like to send money for every occasion. By the time both of my kids were born, they each had a couple hundred dollars just for arriving in this world. I immediately took that money and put it in their accounts. My husband thinks it is stupid for them to have their own accounts because they don’t earn a lot of interest on their money. For me, it is more about them learning to put their money in the bank instead of just spending it immediately.
Once my kids were old enough to start begging for things at the store, I started splitting their money. For instance, if they were given $20 for a birthday, they could keep $10 and put $10 in the bank. If it was a holiday, like Christmas, and they’d get $100, I’d only let them keep about $20 and the rest would go into the bank. The important part is making them actually take it to the bank. This way, they know where their money is going.
This has completely cut down on begging when we are at the store. If my 6-year-old wants something, I ask her if she has enough money. If she does, then she has to think if she actually wants to spend her money on that item or if it is an impulse buy. Nine out of ten times she decides she doesn’t actually need the item. My 3-year-old is slowly learning this. She understands if she doesn’t have enough money that she can’t buy the item, but she doesn’t understand control. If she has enough money, then she’ll go out and buy it. Because of this, the 3-year-old gets more of her money put into the bank instead of her being allowed to keep it. Once she understands impulse buying then she’ll be able to keep more of her money at home. Through this process, my 6-year-old has over $2000 in the bank and my 3 year old has over $1000 in the bank. Better than some adults!
My next tip is for big outings. We recently took the girls to Disneyland and we knew it was going to be outrageously priced. Before we left, we took $20 from each of the girls’ Christmas money. When we arrived at Disneyland, we gave each of them $20 (we told them it was their money) and we told them they could spend it on anything they wanted but don’t ask for anything else once the money is gone. After seeing the princesses, both girls wanted princess gowns. They were $65 each! We asked them if they had enough money. When they realized they didn’t have enough money, they stopped asking and both found something else. My 6-year-old got Mickey ears with her name written on the back for $18 and my 3-year-old got a princess necklace for $10. The rest of the day we could focus on having fun and they never asked us to buy them another thing. They also both brought money home with them.
Our most recent adventure in money is making everyone accountable for our next vacation. We’d like to take a warm and sunny beach trip next year but we don’t want to pay for it right up front. We decided to have the family change jar. I know many families do it, we just never have. The change jar is our in the family room and the top is duct taped on so we don’t remove any money. Everyone will be dropping their change in the jar and hopefully next year we’ll have enough money to have a nice family vacation.
There are three important things my family gets from this:
1) My kids are accountable for their own money and will hopefully never have financial problems in their future.
2) My kids never whine or throw temper tantrums in a store because they aren’t getting something they want.
3) I stay sane because I don’t have to deal with my kids throwing temper tantrums in a store. A happy mommy means a happy family.
This is a guest post from Heather of Iowa. She blogs about her personal and parenting adventures and also shares awesome deals and yummy recipes at www.thingsthatkeepmesane.com.