This past week my oldest daughter shocked me. We were at a family birthday party, and she decided that since her younger sister received a random dollar from a cousin, that she should go around to each family member asking them each for a dollar. Yup, go ahead and laugh. Great strategy? Nope. Ill money manners were represented on her part. My mother heard her, my mother- the queen of “never ask anyone for a dime”. I think she learned her lesson. But then she did something else with her money she was saving. I think it’s time to remind our children that money matters and that there are money truths.
If your child learns anything about money today, I really want them to learn that money comes with a cost. There is no such thing as “free” money.
Here are 8 money truths every child should know regarding money.
- Know where the money is coming from. Teach your son to ask himself if it’s money he should accept. Is it from a stranger? Is it from a bribe? Was the money stolen? Did it fall out of someone’s pocket in front of him, in line? Does the other person need the money more than him? Teach your child that there is such a thing as bad money. Money, that under no circumstances should be accepted. Also, that these may be red flags- tell an adult.
- Never ask someone (outside of parents) for money. I once played with a younger neighbor while the mother cleaned. Two hours after “playing” his mom paid me $40. I didn’t understand, I was ecstatic, ran home to show my parents. They made me return the money. They taught me to never ask anyone for money, nor accept money without providing a service (I was like 9 too young to babysit, in reality, I just liked playing with the kid. My father knew that.) Remind your children that money comes with a cost. There is no such thing as free money. In their eyes, the money that is “given” to them is free, but in reality, they need to realize that the person “giving” it to them worked for it. Do not allow your child to have an entitlement mentality.
- Work for your money. From the moment your child can verbally and intelligently ask for a toy from Kmart, they can begin earning money. It may be chores, it can be extra reading, perhaps better grades or extra credit. Heck, a few loose teeth may just fall loose. All great ways for young children to earn money. Teach your children that all material objects and that the majority of entertainment comes with a price tag. Children who work for their money will learn from a young age to respect money.
- Saving money is wise. This is a tough one to really get into details on. Children want what they want, and they want it “now”. In the beginning, I mentioned that my daughter made two ill money mistakes this week. The second mistake is that she took her money she was saving all week for new sunglasses and went to buy ice cream from the ice cream truck that passed by the house. Saving money takes commitment. Money that is saved should be tucked in a safe place, preferably under the parents care until the child is mature enough to not impulsively spend it.
- Just because you can afford it, does not mean you need it. This is definitely a tough one for the younger kids. Kids who see new, red, bright and fits in their budget often blow their hard earned money on things that have no worth. Teach your children that quality vs quantity definitely can be applied to purchases. That $5 dollar car from Dollar General may be affordable today and even leave enough after for a bag of chips. But how long will it last? Teach your children to think critically. That sometimes they have to wait to save extra money, to get something of value that will last longer. Also, if your child has 3 balls at home, do they really need a new one? Or could they use a new pair of pool goggles instead? Teach them to differentiate between a need and a want.
- Always say thank you. Positivity breeds positivity. When children learn that positive thoughts turn into positive action, they will be able to succeed. Did your child mow the neighbor’s lawn or clean their car? Teach your child that a cheerful helper will always be appreciated. It’s not just about providing a service, it’s about providing an experience. Teach your child to tell the waiter or cashier “thank you” when a purchase has been made. It’s not that your son is “losing” money, but that there was a person providing a service to him. Vice versa, teach him to appreciate whatever income or material good he receives. To say thank you is to show that he understands that money=work. It’s not free.
- Realize that money can not buy happiness. Money comes and goes. That’s just the way it is. Yes, money can be used as a way to do many things, and get what you want. But money can not buy love, loyalty, friendship, trust, honesty or family. Teach your child to have a spirit of giving. Teach him that there are others who are less fortunate than himself. If your child learns this at a young age, greed should not become an issue at an older age. Teach him that life should be filled with love and fun, that money shouldn’t be the number one thing on his mind.
- Have a giving heart. My daughter has a heart for orphans. She can seriously cry if she learns that someone doesn’t have both parents. To her, there’s nothing worse than someone who is alone. She wants to help every person who is hungry, hurt and lonely. I admire this about her. But I have to be careful with her and money. She seriously would give it all away (don’t ask me how I know). Teach your children that there is always someone worse off than them. Teach them that they should always be on the lookout to help someone else. That the next time they go to the school store to buy some neat erasers and cool pencils, that perhaps they should buy an extra two. That the extra two should randomly go to a classmate who was unable to make a purchase. Helping others is not always how much money you have, it’s about making sacrifices. Teach them that when they help others it is not to rub it in the other person’s face with “ha ha I have more than you”. Or to gloat, or ask for a return favor- that’s being an Indian giver! Teach them that to give is to be grateful for what you already have.
I really hope these 8 money truth tips can help your children learn how to appreciate and respect money. Money matters and it’s time for our children, that will one day be adults, learn how to handle money. It begins with us, parents. These 8 tips can be easily applied to ourselves as well.
I would love to hear from you. What are some money matters tips you would add to this list? Tell us in the comments!