You’ve heard it a thousand times, and probably said it yourself: kids think money grows on trees. It springs from childhood innocence and a lack of grownup concerns. Kids don’t have to worry about bills, and they depend on us, the parents, to have all the cash flow concerns under control. But while you don’t want junior to go prematurely gray worrying over the electric bill, you do want him to understand the value of a dollar. Here are some ideas for helping your kids take a more realistic view of money:
1 Let them earn it. It’s always easier to spend someone else’s money. If you have your children earn the money they want to spend, they may become far more selective about their purchases. Older kids can take on part-time jobs or babysit to earn money, but even young children can earn a buck or two for helping you with a task like cleaning out the car or sorting the plastic recyclables.
2 Take your kids grocery shopping with you and allow them to choose certain items on your list. For example, you might allow them to choose between store brand pancake mix and a name brand. Or you might put them in charge of finding the best priced breakfast cereal. You can even have them clip coupons before your shopping trips! Then, give them an incentive, such as the chance to choose a special snack if they help you save on the grocery bill.
3 Let them in on the budget. Older kids can understand a family budget, so go ahead and share yours with them. But don’t stop there. Help them get a feel for how a budget really works by giving them temporary responsibility for something on it. This should be a non-essential budget item, such as entertainment, so that a mistake won’t cause serious problems. Turn over just one budget item for, say, a month or so, and have your kids research, compare, and analyze to ensure that your family gets the most bang for its buck. Hopefully, the outcome will be you saving and your children learning important financial lessons.
4 Get them involved in giving to others. The realization that many others are less fortunate may help children value all that they have and think twice about some of their more frivolous requests.
5 Looking for an all-in-one kit to teach your kids about money? Check out Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Junior.
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