This post has been sponsored by Cash Crunch Games. Nevertheless, the ideas on how to teach our kids to use money wisely are all mine.
Growing up, I don’t remember any lessons in school on using money wisely. I remember having an empty kid’s piggy bank. Getting allowance was spotty – my parents didn’t have much money to spare. I remember my mom keeping a mason jar in the kitchen for pennies and change, which she periodically took to a coin counter and exchanged for paper cash. I have a mason jar for change in my kitchen too!
But as someone who did not feel prepared for “real life” and managing my own money after marriage, I want better for my kids. I want each of my kids to leave home with a solid understanding of what money management should look like. And while that starts with setting a good example, I’ve also found some great tools to help us teach our kids to use money wisely.
Teaching our kids to use money wisely through conversation.
When things are important to us, we need to talk about those things with our kids. Whether it’s a biblical view of marriage or a biblical view of finances, we can’t just leave it up to chance or expect our kids to pick up the right know-how from Jelly Telly. We need to have natural, in-the-moment conversations with our kids. How are they spending their money? How are we handling our money? What are we doing about a money crisis in our home? What could we do better? What are some ways everyone in the family can help us take our money further?
Planned conversations with our kids are also highly valuable. Holding a family meeting to brainstorm ways to cut water usage is just one example of a planned conversation about money management. I remember one time my husband and I were talking about the online giving program our church had, and how we hadn’t gotten some tax documentation we needed.
One of my older kids piped up in shock, “You give money to the church?” He had watched us ignore the offering plate for years and naturally assumed we didn’t give our tithe. This is an important conversation to have, because our kids aren’t privy to our bank account.
Now that so much can be done digitally, the kids have no idea where you give money or why unless you tell them. Make a list of the kinds of things you want your child to know about money and plan to talk about them over dinner, over dessert, or whenever you chat together as a family.
Teach our kids to use money wisely using tools.
Hands-on learning is the best way to teach almost anything. Giving your kids money to handle and helping them learn by doing is really essential for your child’s passage to adulthood. An allowance or payment for work is a great place to start. Requiring older kids to have a job is fantastic, because it gives them experience in the work force and also puts money in their hands. Expecting kids to save money, use their own money for gifts and spending, all of this hands-on experience goes a long way.
But even with all that, some are savers and some are spenders.
I have one child who hardly ever spends a red cent of her allowance or gift money. She’s got quite a bit in savings! Another child in our home likes to spend money the moment it hits his wallet. He has next to nothing. But both kids have experience buying things they want, working to earn what they want to spend, buying things they thought they wanted only to find out it ended up in the trash, saving for bigger purchases, and choosing something less expensive because they couldn’t afford their ideal. All valuable lessons.
Just putting money in their hands isn’t enough though. Use tools like a piggy bank (for younger kids) or a bank account (for older kids) to help them learn to keep a running balance of what they have, track where they are spending money, and carefully evaluate their choices over time.
One of my siblings gives her kids a clothing budget and expects them to buy all of their own clothing. Do they really need that $100 pair of jeans, or will the $20 pair do? When they first get to make the choices, they will make mistakes and then not be able to get those new tennis shoes they need right away. But after a few mistakes, they will recognize the need to be more frugal and save carefully for unforeseen expenses. This is a great tool for helping teens learn to budget wisely before they leave home!
Teach our kids to use money wisely using games.
Certain kids love games. I have one child who loves games so much he will sit and play for hours. And I’m not talking about electronic games either. I’m talking about board games and card games and dominoes. And of course, he gets one-on-one time with Grandma, Mom, or whoever else he can convince to sit down and play the game.
With kids who love games, nothing inspires them or has more of an impact on learning than game play. Kids who love to play games can learn to read, learn math, and learn all kinds of concepts through game time. Including financial smarts.
The Cash Crunch Jr. game has the goal of encouraging conversations about money, social responsibility, and family values. The game is played for a certain length of time agreed upon ahead of time by all players. When the time is up, whoever has the most money in the saving category wins. Throughout game play, students roll die and move around the board, incurring expenses, debt situations, income opportunities, and the chance to make choices – wise or unwise.
We had a lot of fun playing Cash Crunch Jr. together! Played consistently, this game definitely reinforces the concepts of saving, spending wisely, and the value of the dollar.