If you’ve been waiting for an appropriate time to teach your kids some fiscal responsibility, now’s the time to do it! There’s no time like the present to springboard into discussions about saving, budgeting, and generosity. And it certainly doesn’t have to be as boring as you might think.
Here’s a little step by step process of what it could look like for your family.
Step 1: Come up with a family mission statement!
Gather your littles around the table and invite their input into your own bulleted list or paragraph to use as a mantra. Then print off little cards with your statement and place them in front of your child’s piggy bank or wallet.
Here is a playful example: “Our family gives generously, doesn’t spend what we don’t have, saves wisely, and enjoys a treat now and then!”
Step 2: Plan ahead
Before buying an item, have your child decide who will pay – them or you – and set a budget.
If they will be paying, but don’t have enough, do a little lesson on saving. Have them earn their way to be able to pay for the item they chose.
Then do some research together!
Look up prices online, and do comparative shopping. You can even have your child call up a store and ask about the current price of an item (and whether it’s in stock).
When you’re still at home, have them count cash to make sure they have enough.
Don’t forget to teach them about sales tax and calculate it together. What a terrific opportunity to practice some math skills!
Step 3: Purchase your item(s)!
This is the fun part. Take your little one to the store, plop that special item in the cart, and help them hand over the money to the cashier.
If there’s something else your child wants to add to the total, ask them if they have enough money and remind them to stick to the budget!
If they don’t have enough, have them save up again and return to the store at a later date.
Step 4: Continue these lessons year-round and lead by example
The best way to teach your kids fiscal responsibility for a lifetime is to model good money behavior year-round.
Invite them into conversations, or let them overhear those the adults are having. Share the finance section of the newspaper (remember that thing!?) … have them pick and track stocks… Disney, anyone?
You could also discuss your desire for a new vehicle, but say “it just isn’t in the budget right now,” and let them hear the ways you’re saving up or reducing spending in other categories.
Above all, keep in mind your kids’ need for feeling safe and secure in their home. Be selective about what you share and when, and only have them pitch in to the family’s finances when age-appropriate.