Personal finance is kind of my hobby. It started when I was 12 years old, and my mom would give me coffee cans full of pennies, then I would sort through them, picking out the wheat pennies (is that still a thing, or am I revealing how old I am?). Ever since, I have loved looking through currencies and coins to find hidden treasures. I have turned finance into a career for myself, spending 8 years working for a bank, and the following 3 years working in accounting and budgeting (there I go, dating myself again).
Now that I have kiddos, I know how important it is to teach them sensible personal finance so they can succeed in this world. One of the most essential financial lessons that you can impart on your children is the importance of saving. Having an adequate savings account can safeguard you from financial distress, help you take advantage of opportunities when they arise, and ensure that you can retire without stressing about money. The earlier you start saving, the better off you’ll be!
This is especially true for children. If you can teach your children to save money at an early age, you can instill healthy financial habits now that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.
My daughter is now 5, so I have been starting my financial lessons with her.
Elle’s aunt and uncle gave her Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Junior Set for Christmas last year, and there are so many great tools in it to use! It includes a chore chart, an audio book, a calculator, and 3 money bags for spending, saving and giving. We have been utilizing the chore chart and envelopes to learn about money and savings.
Here is what I am doing to reinforce good spending and saving habits with my daughter:
Teaching Children to Save Money
Earning an Allowance
A useful lesson is to teach children that they have to earn an income. We use the chore chart included in the set above, but there are tons of chore charts available on Pinterest. I try to make a few chores a daily habit to let her earn her allowance, and also teach her how to keep a clean environment. Every Saturday, if she has earned her allowance, I give her $10.
The amount of allowance you set for your children will depend on your budget, how many children you have, and how much you expect from them.
When I give my daughter her allowance, I give it to her in $1 bills. I grab the envelopes, and have her count out $7 to add to her “spend” envelope, $2 for her save envelope, and $1 for her give envelope. It’s good practice for counting, but also sets a good precedent for when she is earning actual income.
When I do my weekly shopping, I bring Elle by the toy or arts and crafts isles. We bring her “spend” envelope, and count how much money she has. If there is something she wants to buy, we look at the price and see if she can afford it. If she can’t, we talk about how she can save her “spend” money for xx amount of weeks to afford what she wants, or she can buy something less expensive.
If she decides to buy something, we put it into the cart. Once we check out, we put her item(s) into a separate checkout, so she can pay for it from her money. I help her count out her cash, then hand it to the cashier, and accept any change.
Once every few months (whenever the bank is open and I am not at work), I take my daughter to the bank, along with her “savings” envelope, and we deposit her cash into her savings account. The credit union where we bank offers “kids bucks”, where children get a coupon every time they deposit money in their savings. They can trade in those coupons for small tokens or toys.
There are many banks that offer this kind of fun incentive for kids to enjoy savings, so be sure to check if your bank does something similar!
Giving is a crucial lesson to teach little ones. There are so many opportunities to give back, if you’re looking for them. This time of year they start the Salvation Army red can, and I will be asking Elle to bring her “giving” envelope along with us for our weekly shopping to give back.
If you regularly attend church, tithing would be another way your children can give back.
You could also ask for your child’s help to purge toys and clothes, then take them to goodwill.
Teaching children to save money, at any age, is so important to their lifelong financial habits. The earlier, the better! If you haven’t quite managed to get your own personal finances in as healthful state as you’d like, I highly recommend reading Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. His approach to personal finance is direct, easy to follow, and widely applicable.
Do you teach your children to save money? What tips or lessons do you use to help them learn?
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