My son showing off his savings.
*Update. My twins are 13 now…..I cannot believe it and I’m happy to say that they have continued to save! In fact they just put their birthday money into their savings up and were excited. My now 17 year old has been working a 20 hours a week part time job since May and now has saved up $7000 AND she just opened a second savings account so she could start saving for a big trip she wants to take in 2 years when she graduates college.
*This post was originally posted in 2016 but just as true today as it was then!
My son, at age 11, has more cash than my husband and I have had during hard times in our marriage! My fifteen year old daughter has several hundred dollars in her savings account. I’m so excited that my children have learned to love to save because I remember getting a few dollars for an extra chore well done and being so impatient to get to the store to spend it. Spend it on anything just because I had it.
Instead, my children rush to put it in their money banks. They celebrate each time they hit that next milestone. $50! $100! $200! They keep changing what they are saving for but my son’s answer has been my favorite so far, “Something big, that I just have to have.” He says by saving his money when it comes along he’ll have the money to get it.
We don’t require our children to give money to charity. (Don’t get me wrong- we believe that charitable giving is very important but believe that it can be in the form of time, items, service, etc. and we raise our children with that belief). We don’t pay them for daily or weekly chores but they get their own money in a few ways.
- Each birthday they are given the option of having a class birthday party or getting $100 in cash to spend as they wish. Since my oldest (now 17) was 7, she has chosen the cash and her siblings have followed suit. From what they’ve told me is that they not everyone in their class is their friend, or even nice to them, so they’d rather not have to invite them all to a party. We do cake and ice cream celebration with family and a close friend or two.
- My son collates my coupon inserts every week. I generally pay him $0.50- $1 per set depending on how many pages are in each insert. With the 4 big inserts the first Sunday of January and having picked up extras, he earned $10!
- They have the option to do extra, non-regular, chores to earn a few extra dollars. This isn’t regular but when there is something I need done that I don’t have the time (or energy) to do – I offer it up for whichever child wants it.
There are a few things we’ve done to help foster this tendency to save rather than splurge in our children and I hope it sticks!
Teach them the cost of a purchase.
We might be in the store and my daughter asks for a candy. It might be less than a dollar and something we can afford, but I want my children to learn that things they want need to be earned. So I remind her that if she wants that candy that she could use her money. I might say “What chores do you do that earn you $1?” She’ll reply with a chore like organizing the cabinets or scrubbing the trash cans. “Is that candy bar worth having to do that?” The answer varies, but often the reply is, “There is a different kind of candy at home.” and the candy bar gets put back.
They are learning to equate what they want with what it really costs them- their time & energy.
Teach them to anticipate it.
We are so used to instant gratification. We want something, we get it now. The anticipation of a reward is often what makes it the best. Working hard and earning something is what makes a reward a reward. For my pre-teen, she is saving for a car. She has only a year to go now- but the anticipation of what car she will get (Mom approved of course) has kept her on track. What about having them make a dream board for the things they want to save for. Plus that might help you around birthday or Christmas time!
Set an Example.
Talk about what you are saving for. When we were saving for our trip to Disney World – we told them and kept them updated. “We’re half way there!” or “We’re going in February!”. When we were saving to have a pool installed- we kept them updated. Now I have four fish who spent nearly the entire summer swimming- and appreciating those times I said NO to ice cream or Starbucks.
Now we’re working on saving to have our shed converted into an amazing playhouse. We met that goal and now we are saving for a big family trip to Puerto Rico! While my children don’t know the specifics of our finances- we do keep them in the general loop of our financial goals.
Keep it Tangible (for a while).
My fifteen year old understands the concepts of banks and interest. My eleven year olds just know that if they put it in the bank- they don’t have it anymore. I think the idea of a bank account holding their money is just a little beyond them right now- so until it really clicks- we let them keep their money in actual bills and coins. Counting his money re-motivates my son to earn more. He’s really gotten the idea of work hard, earn money, use money to get the items you want (or do the things you want to do). So for a while- we’re keeping the money tangible for my younger kids.
Let them make mistakes.
It was painful- for me as much as my son. He saw this practical joke kit he really wanted. It was about $15. I knew it was a bad idea. I told him it was a bad idea. I told him again it was a bad idea. “It’s junk, honey. It won’t last.” “Please Mom. I really want it.” “It’s your money, but I don’t think it’s a good idea.” $15 and 15 minutes later- the piece of junk was in the trash. Thankfully it only took this one bad choice to teach my son that junk is junk and not worth the money. He also learned that Mom is a lot smarter than she looks. I wouldn’t let him blow all his savings- but this was a $15 lesson that I don’t think he will forget- that was a LOT of inserts he collated for those $15.
Learning how to save money and really think about what we spend is an important lesson I want my children to learn early. I’d love to hear your tips for teaching kids how to save & love it!
p.s. I have started an etsy shop and among the custom items I am offering is this give save spend piggy bank that is customized!