5 ways to teach your children well
Kids are such a blessing.
My favorite time of the day is when my three-year-old son greets me in the morning with a huge smile and gives me the biggest hug he can muster, one where he is really leaning into me. He lets me shower him with multiple kisses on his forehead.
Or perhaps on the weekend when my middle son plays soccer, breaks away, and kicks the ball towards the goal. Whether he scores or not, he’s a winner in my eyes.
Another highlight of my day is when my oldest son asks to play a game of checkers or “Apples to Apples,” with no ulterior motive.
These are the moments that make me a proud mama. It is my responsibility as a parent to create a safe, loving environment for my children to thrive.
You are your son or daughter’s best teacher. Let’s explore five ways to raise healthy, responsible children.
1) DON’T SPOIL.
I can’t tell you the number of times that my nine-year-old has asked for things. I’m making a Target run and he gladly offers to come with me. Minutes into our visit, I remember his real intention for joining me: Pokemon cards.
Or we are at his younger brother’s soccer game and he is so hungry and thirsty that he simply cannot wait a half hour to eat a snack at home. As the oldest, he sets an example for the younger two boys.
If you are faced with a similar situation, resist the urge to say “yes” to every request. You can spoil your children with hugs and kisses, but don’t be tempted to buy everything they want (even if you have the financial resources to do it). Instead, help them understand the difference between wants and needs. Also see if they are willing to pay for a portion or all of the item’s cost. Consult Ron Lieber’s NYT bestseller The Opposite of Spoiled for other ideas.
At Target, I tell my son that he must use his money or gift cards if he wants to purchase any Pokemon products or other toys. Likewise, in advance of the soccer game, I make it clear that he can pick a granola bar or other snack from home and a water bottle. Otherwise, he is solely responsible for paying for any food or drink he buys at the game. This keeps both of us happy. He often gets what he wants but learns basic budgeting concepts at 9 years of age.
2) INSTILL GREAT HABITS EARLY.
Want to teach kids as young as five-years-old how to allocate money they receive as gifts or by operating a lemonade stand? Consider three clear jars or plastic containers labeled:
I first heard of this concept several years ago through Nathan Dungan, founder of Share Save Spend. He suggested that any new money given to your child gets divided equally among the three jars. For example, $15 total would be divided into three increments of $5 each. The share jar is used for charitable giving, while the save jar eventually gets deposited in a bank account. “Spend” is self-explanatory.
Since each of us have different money temperaments, recognize that your child may have a natural inclination to put all of the money into a single jar. Come to an agreement where your child can direct more money to a single jar. I’d recommend making contributions to the other two jars even if smaller amounts.
My nine-year-old son’s natural inclination is to spend, so we agreed to put ½ of his money into the spend jar and then the other ½ into save and share jars.
Cash gifts are not the only way to celebrate birthdays or special occasions. Bankrate offers 6 ways to give money as a gift and teach early financial literacy skills.
3) GIVE THEM A LEG UP.
Get a piggy bank! I don’t know how it happens, but my kids seem to find coins all over the place. We may use the share, save, and spend jars for larger denominations, but any coins they collect can go straight into the piggy bank.
It’s actually invigorating to see my oldest son carry his piggy bank full of coins to the real brick and mortar bank for a deposit. We discuss how that deposit is going to earn interest (aka “free money”) just for sitting there. My middle son and I sort some of the coins before the bank trip so he can practice math skills. These two small actions – sorting and depositing – work wonders in giving my kids a leg up in life (financially speaking).
If you want to take budgeting concepts digitally, consider FamZoo. They offer prepaid cards and a family finance app for kids, teens, and parents. ProActive is ideal if you struggle with cash flow management personally, want a digital “envelope” budget system, and want to monitor your child’s money on the same app.
4) SAVE FOR FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES.
Saving for college is important but not the only consideration. If you want your child to invest early, companies like Stockpile are making it easy to buy fractional shares of recognizable companies like Disney and Amazon. Be cognizant of transaction fees, though; they charge $0.99 per trade and may represent a large portion of the purchase price if you’re buying a small amount of shares.
Worthy connects qualified borrowers (often small business owners) to individual investors. As an investor, you earn 5% interest on $10 bonds. I’m personally not planning on buying a bunch of $10 bonds but think this might be a good tactic to try with my oldest son, when he becomes frustrated by the traditional bank’s paltry interest rate.
5) PRIORITIZE SERVICE.
I recently joined Good Meets World. It represents a community of businesses that are giving back and changing the world. A portion of all revenue from my business WorthyNest® revenue supports the Crisis Nursery.
It’s important for me to foster this same spirit of generosity in my sons. My sons can join me on two upcoming volunteer opportunities, arranged by Good Meets World.
Don’t you want to instill a sense of service in your kids as well? Tithing strictly pertains to finances. God also asks us to give our talents and time to serve His higher purpose.
It may be difficult to find volunteer slots for young children, but a plethora of opportunities usually open in 7th grade and beyond. Consider your child’s passions and abilities. If he has a heart for pets, he may want to volunteer at the animal shelter. She may opt to organize nonperishable food items for a pantry. Adopting a family in need during the holidays may allow children of all ages to be involved.
Teaching your children well is just one of the concepts discussed in my upcoming book, Redefining Family Wealth: A Parents Guide to Purposeful Living. Access book updates and our top 10 wealth-building tips here.