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Third Thursday Thoughts: Teaching Kids About Money

Posted Oct 18 2012 6:00am
Welcome to another edition of Third Thursday Thoughts, brought to you by the wonderful people at Hearts at Home ! Every third Thursday of the month, we share our thoughts on the topic of the month. This month’s topic: How do you teach your kids about money?

When I read this month’s topic, I have to admit that my first response was “Yuck!” To be honest, we’re not very organized when it comes to teaching our kids about money. In other words, we don’t have a formal system in place. Of course, we’ve tried allowance and incentive programs in the past, but they never seemed to last because we’d get tired of keeping charts or our schedules would be too crazy to do anything on a regular basis. I think, instead, that we have certain “philosophies” about money that we uphold in our family.

We pay for extra effort. We don’t believe in paying our kids an allowance for things that they should be doing anyway as part of a family, such as cleaning up their rooms, clearing the dinner table, or feeding the cats. As a family, everyone needs to chip in to keep our house running smoothly and looking somewhat neat. However, if the kids go beyond the normal chores, like pulling weeds in the yard or helping with a special project, then we’ll reward them with cash.

Mommy doesn’t buy candy. If we’re at the store and the boys ask to buy candy (I hate those displays at the check-out!), the first words out of my mouth are “Did you bring YOUR money?” They know that Mommy buys the essentials, such as clothing, gifts, foods, and so on, but they need to earn the “junk” like candy. When they’re using their own money, they see how quickly it disappears with just a few candy purchases! And they’re much more likely to look for the best deal when it’s their own money being spent.

We talk about good choices. We rarely eat out because we’d rather save our money for something more memorable. We talk to our kids about the trade-offs. “We can spend $50 now to eat at a restaurant or we can put that same money aside every week to pay for a family vacation this summer. Which would you rather do?” Invariably, they’d rather forego the instant gratification of eating out if that means they’ll have something more desirable down the road. Yesterday, I bought smoothies for the kids and me, and it cost almost $10! We talked about how much more ahead we’d be financially if we’re not spending $10 every week on expensive smoothies. We’d have an extra $40 a month or $480 a year just by giving up smoothies!

So, these are just some of the values we try to instill in our children about money. We also need to work more on talking to them about helping others with our money. I’m going to be sure we address this issue as the holiday season approaches! I’d love to hear about your family’s philosophies or programs for teaching children about money. Feel free to share them in the comments section!

And for more tips on teaching children about money, hop around to the other blogs participating in this month’s Third Thursday Thoughts! CLICK HERE to find a list. (Check it throughout the day as more links are added!)

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