Unfortunately our schools lack curriculum in basic money management skills. It is important that we teach our children how to manage their finances from a young age, so they develop habits to become fiscally responsible adults. Although some of us were not taught these skills when we were children, it is never too late to teach our children these valuable techniques for managing money.
First, start with the concept of earning money. Face it, most of us will not just be handed money for the rest of our lives, but rather are expected to earn our income. Either weekly allowances or commissions based on extra chores is a way to teach kids the correlation between working at something and earning a wage. As a parent, you will determine an allowance amount or commission for chores and discuss it with your children. A popular method is to give a child a weekly allowance based on their age: for example a 5 year old gets 5 dollars a week, and a 10 year old gets 10 dollars a week. But you can determine this based on your own budget and what is reasonable for your family. It is not too early to start a toddler with age appropriate chores like picking up their toys and putting in the toy box and giving them a coin for this effort, pointing out the association between doing some or job to receiving compensation.
A very popular method for teaching children about money management is the concept of splitting their earnings into 3 buckets: Spend, Save, and Share. It starts with 3 containers, either jars, piggy banks, envelopes, marked each with Spend, Save and Share. Discuss an appropriate split of their allowance into each container. For example, 20% goes to Share, 30% goes to Save and 50% goes to Spend. Each time the child receives a payment or gift of money, they deposit the funds based on the determined split into the containers.
This method gives a parent the opportunity to discuss with your child the important concepts of saving up for more expensive items vs. spending money all at one time. Maybe the split of funds into the containers will change based on saving goals or the child. The method also teaches the child a valuable lesson that even though he or she may not have a lot of money, there are always those less fortunate to share with. The Share jar can be used for donations to churches and in combination with volunteer service. For instance, the share jar money may be used to buy food for a local food shelf, and volunteer to pack bags for an hour or two with your child. As we know there are countless opportunities to share our time and money with those in need.
Dave Ramsey at DaveRamsey.com has a host of valuable material including books, blogs and videos on the subject.
Check out SesameStreet.org for a parents guide to teaching financial lessons to kids including free downloads of Jar Wrap templates that the younger kids can color and adhere to their 3 jars. This can help create a sense of ownership and pride in the process.
Let’s work together to make the next generation financially wise.