“Can I get a candy bar?”
“Can I have some money to buy a hot dog at the baseball snack shack?”
“Can you buy me …..?”
Things Cost Money
Do you recognize these pleas for spending your money? In thinking about what money skills young people will need to live independently, the school age years are ideal for teaching about money management.
At an early age, children learn that things they want cost money. They know what dollar bills in a birthday card are for. In elementary school, usually during second grade, children learn the different types of money and how to make change. Some children spend their money immediately, while others save it for something they really want.
Share, Save, Spend
To encourage money management, saving, and giving, we gave each child three baby food jars marked with the words Share, Save, and Spend. Our daughters received a small allowance every Friday that they could spend on whatever they wanted after they put a dime for each dollar in the save jar, and a dime for each dollar in the share jar.
Ways to Share
As church attendees we wanted our daughters to learn about sharing with others. Sometimes they gave their “Share” money during a Sunday school class or to a special project, like the Angel Tree project for Christmas gifts for children with incarcerated parents.
Another way we taught our girls about money was on family vacations. We provided meals for them, but we gave them a specific amount of money in an envelope for each day. The money was to cover the cost of snacks and souvenirs. This truly saved us money instead of paying for a snack, then another snack, then a souvenir, then another souvenir, etc.
Sometimes they saved up several days to buy something they really wanted. We also discovered that there were happier to eat snacks we’d brought along instead of using “their money” to buy snacks.
Modeling Money Choices
Most importantly, money management needs to be modeled by you. If you want your children to save and share with others, they need to see you doing likewise. If you want them spending money responsibly on vacation, let them watch you doing the same. With money matters, much is “caught.” Let your children catch you being a wise steward of the finances entrusted to you.