Do you constantly find yourself at Target with your kids just begging for that new toy, whether it’s the new Pillow Pet that they saw on TV or that thing that everyone has? These trips are filled with the constant nagging of your kids, and you are already stressed enough and just want to get through the store and get home. You usually end up buying whatever they wanted, even if it only puts them at peace for a few minutes until they see something better. Don’t you wish there was a better way?
It’s amazing how your kids will make different decisions with your money, versus if they had their own money. Of course they will still look to you for your money to buy them the things they want, but now you can just tell them to use their own money. When you give your kids money of their own, it completely changes the way they look at things, and they no longer want to just keep spending.
We decided to break this expectation on our wallets. When our kids turned five, we started giving them an allowance. We wanted to teach them how to make their own choices and use money as a tool, and it also started allowing us to have conversations about money.
It works like this: You get your age as your weekly allowance. When my daughter was five years old, I handed her five single dollar bills (If you think I’m crazy for handing a five year-old her own money, just watch and see what happens, especially with a few basic rules in place). When she gets her $5, a dollar always goes to charity (teaching a solid lesson of giving). The rest is split in two halves: one of those is hers to spend however she chooses, while the other half will go to a savings account. The savings is for things in the future, things so far away that a five year old probably cannot even begin to fathom what it is going to be used for. It may be best to talk about these things in terms of milestones, such as a car, a house, college, a wedding, etc. The half that she can spend must be spent within reason according to your rules.
Now, you are walking through Target and your five year old has saved his spending money for three weeks, giving him a total of $6 (which happens to be a lot of money when you are five). When he sees that new set of Pokemon cards that costs $5, he sees that he has enough money to buy it. But when you tell him to go ahead and spend his own money, it suddenly isn’t that important to him anymore, even though all of his friends have it and it’s the newest version. Sometimes they may walk through the store holding on to it, only to put it down on the way out. Anyways, they are not nagging you anymore, so that’s good. If they ask for candy or some other toy, just say “Sure!” You have money, go ahead and spend it, unless you want to save it for something bigger…
This opens up many conversations about money with your child. You can teach lessons about saving and giving, as well as choosing what you actually want and the best way to go about getting that. These lessons will stick with your kids as they grow up, and they will learn that the small little cheap thing that they can buy right now might not be as important as saving up for something bigger and more valuable. When you are walking through a store and your child wants candy, you can have conversations about the high price of getting it right now at this store, versus a large discount on candy at another store where you can buy more if you can just wait a little while. When your son wants to go and buy that cool new Lego set, it’s the same concept that you can teach here. The cool Lego store is going to be a lot more expensive than buying it on Amazon. This is teaching your kids patience, even though they might have to wait a week instead of buying it now for twice the amount. You can also introduce them to the idea of buying items used on Ebay, or at a garage sale.
Over the years, my kids have saved thousands of dollars and have plenty to spend in their wallets. I do not have to deal with the constant nagging at the store every time we go out. Both of my kids have learned to spend on what they really want and desire, and to not just buy something for the sake of buying it.
These lessons are priceless!
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