Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thursday Thrifty Tip: Teaching the Value of Money

Raising a child to be financially responsible in today's "cashless" society can be difficult. If you are a parent I would be shocked if you haven't been at a store when you've heard a similar comment from your child, "Pleeeease can we have it!" or "But, I want it!". As a parent this can be a very trying experience as well as potentially make a big deficit in your wallet. So, how do you handle it?

I think as parents we often forget how the act of carrying cash has literally changed, making it difficult for kids to understand the value of a dollar. When I was growing up, (OK, I promise no stories of me walking to school in the snow up hills BOTH ways...) people still used cash. Seriously, there weren't any ATM slide machines at the grocery line, credit cards excepted at the local fast food place, and if you didn't have cash you used a check. (Remember checks?) And, in the event a plastic credit card was used my parents had saved for months to pay it off.

Today is a different story. Cash is something to get stolen or misplaced in most of our minds and we are offended when a business doesn't take a debit or credit card for payment. Our children see us pull out a plastic card to pay for the gas, groceries, Dr co-pays, etc and what they don't see is the actual dollars behind the cards.

If your kids have some verbal skills, it is a great time to start talking about money. Not only is it a great opportunity to work on their counting skills, it is also a great time to talk to them about what things cost. For example, we often have Fiona line up coins in piles equally a dollar and then pile them up to equal things she "wants".

Last week we counted out Fiona's piggy bank to come to the resolution that she in fact didn't have enough for a plane ticket to Iowa to visit her Grandma and Grandpa "Sugar" (my parents). So...instead of us answering "we just can't!", we were able to SHOW Fiona how the value of taking such a precious trip costs money. She was more content with our answer of why she couldn't go to Iowa and resolved to "save" her money to get a plane ticket to Iowa soon.

In addition, to visually showing our kids money we also aren't afraid to say no when they ask for things. Neither Drew nor I have a problem explaining to our kids that something costs too much, isn't in our budget, or tell them that next time they can bring their own money to purchase the ugly green alien pencil topper. (Honestly!) Will it get more difficult as their "toys" get more expensive? I'm positive, but it is never too early to start teaching your children the value of money today.

From inside the little blue bungalow,
Katie Jean
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Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see her in Yellowstone! Love,Cousins from iowa

Nancy Cook said...

A very good post. I think that it will get more difficult as they grow older, KJ. But raising them with an understanding of money and that the best things in life are not "things" will benefit them more in the long run.

anisaschell said...

Great post KJ. Since Henry is closer to Keegan's age, I've been able to get away with telling him things at the store are just for looking at, not for taking home. ;) LOL. I know that won't work for long though... he's already starting to insist he wants some things anyway.

But he does get really excited to see his clear change jar filling up as we save for a zoo membership.

We are actually shifting back to carrying cash. Got one CC cancelled (though not all the way paid off yet), so once it's done with, we have only one more to go. It's a slow process, but worth it, especially if our example can save our boys from eveer digging that hole themselves!