Christmas is a season most often related to parties and gift-giving. This is especially true for the little ones. If you have kids, and young kids like I do, you will hear a non-stop stream of Santa wishes the moment you put your tree up. I was thinking about this as I was decorating my tree with my son and daughter and I thought now would be as good a time as any to start teaching them about money.
To be honest, this was a tough one for me There are so many schools of thought about how to go about doing this. When should you give your child an allowance, how much should this be, should you tie this to chores or not, and the list of questions goes on and on. I did some research and decided to try to combine a lot of what I thought made sense to me and I could actually apply.
Teach Your Child The Money Basics
Carol Wilson, a financial adviser from Salt Lake City, says that children learn about money the moment you start taking them to the store.
Your toddler begins learning about money from what she observes during visits to the store. When she reaches age 3 or 4, you should be explaining some of your shopping decisions: ‘We’re buying peaches today because they’re on sale,” or “We’re using coupons from the newspaper to help pay for our cereal.”
I found this to be so true. I’ve been taking my kids to the stores with me as soon as they were allowed by their pediatrician to venture out into the world and I must say my 5-year old knows all about buying food items, our grocery schedule, the fact that when I say “we have to buy more bread”, he knows that means a trip to the grocery store to pick out a loaf which will be paid for at the cashier. And my 3-year old is not far behind.
Now, I know that they know what money is and that it gets us goods and services (ok, services is stretching it, but you get the drift), I’ve decided to start teaching about the value of money. Ok, I’m going to do my best. This is not the easiest topic to teach.
Tips in Learning About the Value of Money:
Here are some tips I think are constructive and realistic when teaching your kids about money
Identifying money. Make sure that she knows the difference between a nickel and quarter.
Currency is different here in Manila but I get the gist of this point. My son knows the difference between all the bills and the coins but not the difference in values yet. Hmmmm….something to work on.
Making change. Make sure that she knows how to present enough money to cover a purchase and to count her change.
Ok, my son and daughter have very recently taken to buying a local tapioca and soy drink. A vendor passes by our house every morning and they come running to me for coins to make their purchase. This is a simple way to present covering a purchase and getting change. I’m happy about this.
Being responsible for money. If she loses the dollar that was in her pocket, she has to know that it’s her loss (you won’t replace it). This will teach her to be more careful in carrying money.
One morning last week, I gave my son some coins to buy his current favorite tapioca-soy drink. But the vendor didn’t come around that day and I didn’t get my coins back. The vendor did come the next day though and, like clockwork, both my kids came runing into the room to ask for change. So I asked my son where yesterday’s change was and he shrugged and said he dropped it. I told him that money was valuable and that he had to take care of it or he wouldn’t have any the next tiome he wanted to buy something. He didn’t get his drink that morning and seeing those big, fat tears almost made me cave. But he hasn’t misplaced his coins since. I’m hoping the lesson wasn’t too harsh.
Understanding that things cost money. From the candy she eyes at the supermarket checkout counter to the premium movie channels on TV, she must know that nothing comes free.
Well, the way I handle this is, every time we go out, I tell my kids that we can make 1 minor toy purchase only (if any). Antyhing they want after that has to go to the next trip becuase I only bring enough money for 1 toy each.
I also try to teach them about caring for their toys becuase these cost money and can’t easily be replaced. The verdict is still out on both attempts to teach my young ones about nothing being free.
Handling an allowance. Make sure that she learns to live with the allowance she’s given and to meet any expectations for it that you might set. For example, this may include a modest savings plan to pay for things she wants.
OK, I’m not sure about this part. I’m honestly not sure about how to introduce an allowance. So far, I’ve tried to connect chores to fun activities and rewards (rewards sometimes being the pride in a job well done). I’ve read that it is ok to connect chores to payment too as this will teach kids that they have to work for money. I am thinking that it might teach them that the only value in a job well done is its monetary equivalent. I haven’t decided. I do know I am going to give an allowance when they hit elementary but i’m still fuzzy on how to teach this. Suggestions anyone?
I hope I’ve listed down some helpful suggestions for getting started on the money lesson. I guess at the end of the day, I really want them to learn that they need to understand and value money, that it IS important, but there are other important things too like going for excellence, and being cautious, etc. This is a work-in-progress for me so any other tips are highly appreciated.
Have you explained money and value to your children? What prompted you to discuss it?