by Lindsey Bell, Tell-Me-How Tuesday Contributor
A few weeks ago, my four-year-old son wanted a new pair of snorkeling goggles that cost about twenty dollars.
“Okay, Son.” I told him. “You can have the goggles after you earn the money for them.”
He decided to sell cookies and lemonade at his dad’s softball game that evening.
As my son walked away from the game with his pockets full of change (and the money earned, I might add), his face beamed with pride. He had worked hard and raised that money nearly all by himself.
I was proud of him too and reminded again that it’s never too early to start teaching kids about money.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Start early.
Even children as young as three or four can understand basic money principles: that things cost money and that we have to work to get money.
But if you haven’t started yet (and your child is now 7 or 13 or 16) don’t worry about what you’ve been unable to do in the past. Instead, focus on what you can do now.
2. Teach them to save, give, and spend wisely. From the very beginning, my husband and I have taught our kids to divide their money into three parts: giving, saving, and spending. It’s now natural to our oldest child. He doesn’t even question us about dividing it.
To do this, you could use a three-part bank, three envelopes or jars, or various online programs. The program we love is www.myjobchart.com. It’s free and allows our children to log in, check off the chores they have completed, earn rewards, and even give, save, or spend directly from the online program (all with adult assistance, of course).
3. Let them make some mistakes.
If your child wants to spend all of his hard-earned money on a toy that you know will break in five minutes, let him (at least occasionally). It’ll be a good learning experience for him.
4. Pay them for some of their chores.
There’s a lot of conflicting advice on whether or not you should pay kids for chores. Some say you shouldn’t because then they will never do anything without getting paid. Others claim you should because that’s how the world works. You don’t get paid unless you do the work. Our family does both. Some chores are unpaid and mandatory, because-you’re-part-of-the-family chores. Others are commission-based.
5. Set a good example.
By far, the greatest thing you can do to help your kids learn about money is to set a good example in your own finances. Your kids will never learn to manage their money wisely if they don’t see it modeled for them at home. If you need help with this, I have a free eBook called Financial Freedom on a Fixed Income that I give to all of my newsletter subscribers. You can sign up for that at my website: www.lindseymbell.com.
Let’s talk: What other ways do you teach your kids about money?
About Lindsey Bell:
Lindsey Bell is the author of Searching for Sanity, a parenting devotional to be released in January 2014. She’s also a stay-at-home mother of two, minister’s wife, avid reader, and chocolate lover. You can find Lindsey online at any of the following locations:
Her blog: www.lindsey-bell.com
Her website: www.lindseymbell.com
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