After years of living, um, a little spoiled, I had to face being a stay-at-home mom in the current economy. December212012 and other financial gurus have been life changers for my family. We are, finally, using a cash system and paying off loans like crazy.
We now have three children, and there is no way I’m letting them coast into the big world with no guidance in money management. From toddlerhood on, here are the steps we have taken to teach them the value of a dollar.
1. Don’t give in to “I wants”.
As soon as they began feasting their bright eyes on colorful trinkets at the checkout, we began to divert their attention. If they do not expect something each time we shop, it makes errands much easier.
We only allow a free sample if the store offers them, and sometimes a quarter machine visit on our way out for good behavior — and the money comes from their own wallets.
2. Teach that money comes from effort.
Our three-year-old recently began insisting, “I want pennies!” My prompt response? To provide him with opportunities to earn pennies!
He was happy to fold towels for his small fistful of pennies. Around age three or four, we introduce a chart with both commissioned and non-commissioned chores. Commissioned chores are for pay; non-commissioned chores are done simply because we should all contribute to the household.
Examples of our commissioned chores are: water the flowers, vacuum, fold towels, and the like. Our non-commissioned chores are: keep your things picked up, help with dinner, care for the animals, and so on.
3. Encourage wise use of money
A small portion of birthday and Christmas money is for their Give, Save, and Spend jars. We explain that many people give 10%, and we let them make the final decision which is usually more like 20-50% for them!
Saving towards a big, but attainable goal is encouraged (such as the guitar my seven-year-old is working toward.) The remainder of the gift funds they receive is put towards sports and other activities.
They have a vested interest in their activities of choice and know that “money doesn’t grow on trees!” We also put their sports uniforms and gear needs on their wishlists to guide family members towards useful presents rather than a load of soon-forgotten toys.
4. Teach the fun in frugality.
We find enjoyable frugal activities to do almost every day. Church activities, library visits, crafting, cooking together, and freebies in our mailbox are just a few ways to have tons of fun on a dime.
Lessons learned? Time management, spirituality, creativity, and resourcefulness, to name a few.
Instruction in money management is confidence-boosting and rewarding. It helps our little ones hone the skills of earning, saving, spending, and giving. These life skills will be priceless, so to speak, as they venture out in the world as young adults.
How do you teach good money-management in your children?
You can find more frugal adventures at , a place where Heather blogs on parenting, saving money, and more.