Give the kids a budget for back-to-school supplies and watch the magic work. Along with a set dollar amount, I give the kids some suggestions about cutting here and spending more there and tell them they can keep any leftover money. While I don't save any real money here, the kids learn that if they spend their money wisely on necessities they will have money to save or invest or spend on things they really enjoy.
It's fun to watch kids try to find the best deals and weigh the real cost of those fancy smelly markers. The ownership magic continues to work throughout the year as they realize that graphic folder they splurged on didn't really last any longer than the $.10 plain folders.
Interestingly enough, all of my kids opt out of purchasing a lunch box or bag. They realize that I can send their lunch in a plastic grocery bag and it doesn't cost them a cent. No more begging and no more complaints.
By Jackie from Medinah, IL
I apply the same technique with back to school clothes shopping. The kids have a set amount they can spend and if they want to spend it all on air Jordan's, so be it! They have become quite thrifty when it comes to spending their "own" money!
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The example we set for our children in budgeting is very important.
If they see you short of money all the time and you are not poor, then there is no one who will teach them to save and budget at home. If you realize how important this is for them, then you will budget well for their sakes. You will come out ahead too.
By Bev Sobkowich
Sometimes, when you get your pay, and the kids say "Gee, Mom, you have 300 dollars, why can't I get that new DVD, CD, game, etc." YOU on the other hand, are wondering how you are going to pay lights, water, gas, food. If you have a game of Monopoly, take the money in the amount of your pay. Now, have them take out for the needed expenses. Then for the surprises like car repair, or the like. Then see what is left over. Then say, "That has to last us a week (or two, if you get paid every two weeks). Show me how YOU would budget, and still have money for all of us." Makes them think just a little bit. (08/25/2004)
Kris, that is a great idea. Monopoly also teaches them how to save and how to go broke how to sell and how to bargain for those pieces of property. You should mention that one to the math teacher at school!
If you budget or you don't budget, it doesn't matter. You are teaching your kids by your example. If you are thrifty by nature, that's what you teach. If you spend every penny, that's the lesson taught. You want your kids to be smart with money, take a hard look at your own habits. Are you reading books on money, taking classes, getting professional advice to improve your own finances? Learn with your kids. There are lots of great starter books for kids at your public library (for free).
One thing my mom did to stop the compulsive spending was this: If we HAD to have some thing right NOW. She would tell us to go home and think it over for a day or two then if we wanted it, and we had the cash, we could buy it. Most of the time we lost interest in having to have it. (09/01/2004)
My two boys ages 10 and 13 receive $8.50 for their monthly allowance. They are required to place $2 into their savings jar, but may place more in if they wish. They have the clear understanding that what goes into savings jar is not to be spent. Period. What goes into their spending jar has to be divided by 4 (weeks) to determine what they have to spend for each week. I have made it clear that when each of them reaches the savings goal of $25, they may go with mom to one of our local banks and open their own personal savings accounts. Then, if they pay faithfully into their savings accounts each and every month, come the month of December, they will be rewarded with a cash bonus of $15 each.
Even my oldest one who has been a total spendthrift is starting to get it about saving. It helps that I give them their allowances in the form of nickels, dimes and quarters, rather than bills. For them at least they can track their spending much closer. (04/12/2006)