Teaching our children to save money is (in my opinion) one of the most important life lessons we can teach them. Fail at it and they end up as adults who can’t manage their money in any way shape or form. Be successful at it and they end up with a great start very early in life. I have seen people that taught their children correctly and those kids are now millionaires simply because the foundation was laid so early in their lives.
Teaching them to save though isn’t easy. In fact, it’s quite hard. You have to first start with teaching them the value of a dollar and then move onto saving that dollar. We’ve used the tips below quite successfully to begin teaching our Emma.
1. Coupon with your children. I know. I can hear you now. “But they want everything in the store!” “But they whine!” “But..but..”
Let me put it to you this way: You can lay the foundation early and teach them correctly or you can deal with a 30 year old who constantly needs to borrow money because you didn’t teach them and they can’t stick to their budget to save their lives. My daughter absolutely adores couponing with Mommy. It’s extra time that we get together and she treasures those shopping trips. I get the added bonus of teaching her the money part. In addition to helping teach her the value of a dollar, she’s also gotten better at math because of couponing.
2. Nothing for Free. In our home, we have a rewards box. This box is filled with loads of little things that my daughter finds cool, awesome or in some cases, rockin. Candy, stickers, small toys, etc. Anytime I get something like that, they go into that box. She’s not however allowed to touch them unless she’s earned it. How does she earn it? With our points system for rewards. Every chore that my daughter has assigned (and sometimes bonus chores) has a point value attached. Each prize in that box has a point value. When she’s earned enough points, she can cash out for a prize or continue to save for a bigger prize. She also has the option of saving her points and trading them in for a straight cash reward (1 point=.33 cents). This allows her to choose. Instant gratification or a better prize later on with her cash. 8 times out of 10 she goes for the cash. This teaches her that rewards and fun things in life have to be earned and will (hopefully) give her a good work ethic when she’s older.
3. Let them manage their own savings. We use the Capital One 360 Kids Savings account for her. Why? Because money sitting in a piggy bank doesn’t earn interest. Her ING account earns .80 APY. There’s also no minimum needed for her to keep and it doesn’t cost me a dime to transfer her earnings from my account to hers. The best part is that SHE can manage her account. She has a limited access to the account giving her the chance to watch her deposits to see her savings grow and a chance to watch the withdraws cause her savings to go down. She can’t do any withdraws or deposits herself, those all come from the parent account that is attached to it to prevent anything too horrible from happening. This step alone has helped her to learn. She loves watching it grow and she loves being able to say that she has a bank account. It makes her feel “grown up.”
Teaching your kids to save doesn’t have to be a huge deal. It just takes a few simple steps to get started. What do you do to teach your kids? I’d love to hear your ideas!
Stacy Barr is the sole owner and lead blogger at Adventures in Coupons. She enjoys all things thrifty, zombies and of course, bacon. When asked to describe herself, she will tell you that she is a "perpetual pajama lounger who occasionally writes on a blog." Stacy is very PR friendly and can be contacted by email.