Teaching kids about money

Oddly enough, I’m not sure I have any advice or recommendations except do it. Aside from your testimony in the Gospel, financial management is the single most important thing you will leave your children, and it will change their perceptions of the entire world.

With Katherine, we have three baby food jars labeled Tithing, Savings, and Spending. Each time she does a job for us (jobs are distinctly different from regular chores by the way), we pay her a certain amount of pennies ranging from $.10 for simple tasks (organizing the shoes by the front door) up to $2.00 for more complex and involved tasks (helping daddy plant seeds for spring planting).We lay out the pennies with 10% sitting around the Tithing jar, 40% by the Savings jar, and the remaining 50% by her Spending jar. As soon as the task is done to our satisfaction, she gets paid, and she puts the money in her jars.

Not only has this been a wonderful lesson in basic math for her, but she’s also learned what money means. She knows, for example, what it means to give a portion of her money in Tithing each week, and she knows what that money is used for. Most importantly, she knows that it is her money, which, again, is distinctly different than having her turn in my tithing envelope. She even fills out the tithing slip on her own (okay, not really, but we only help her write legibly).

She also knows that her money “lives in the bank,” and that it is growing bigger. At four-years-old, she has saved on her own $10.77. Certainly not a huge number, but she is only four. And if she keeps this habit from now until she graduates from high school, think of what her life will be like then? How nice will it be when she pays for her college education without student loans?

Most importantly though, she knows that she can ask for anything she wants in the store, and, if she has the money, she can have it.

Today I had the privilege of taking her on a Daddy-Daughter date to Toys R US where she took the $16.25 that she has saved over the last 12 months, and she bought a Snow White Princess Dress. Sure, I ended up tossing in the last few bucks when she wasn’t looking, but sometimes that’s what you do. The back end of that story is that Katherine announced a year ago that she wanted to buy that dress, and each time she put a penny in that jar, she would proudly announce that she was just that much closer.

How many adults have that kind of control and drive?

Dave Ramsey is famous for saying that the difference between adults and children is that children base their decisions on emotion while adults base their decisions on logic and reason. Tell me: Who is more reasonable? The four-year-old who saved every penny she earned for 12 months so that she could pay cash for a $20 dress, or the adult who uses debt to fund what they want now because they want it or feel they deserve it?

Thanks, Katherine. I was so proud to see you accomplish your goal of buying that dress and doing it the right way.

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One Response to Teaching kids about money

  1. Pingback: Are you weird yet? « the prodigal

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