Watching your children grow is one of the great joys of being a parent. Even more than physical growth, watching your child’s mind develop is fascinating and exciting.
Newborns are completely reliant on parents and others for everything in their world, but time flies and it seems that every day as they move from toddler to child they are learning more and more on their own. They are able to make their own decisions for increasingly more things. It can be sweet to watch them use trial and error to find what is best, but they as they do this they are building the habits that will stay with them their entire lives.
Those middle years are a wonderful time to assist them with developing habits that will ensure their success as adults. A great lesson to share is how to handle money responsibly, in other words the time is right for teaching children frugality.
Here are some fun and smart ways I’ve found for teaching children frugality:
- Give them something to learn with – Give your kids an allowance, just a small amount so that if there is something they really want it will take them some time to save up.
- Have a conversation about how they will spend their money. Let them know they CAN spend the money as they get it, it is theirs to use as they like, but talk to them about the things they really want and how much they would need to save and for how long to get them. Make it clear you will not be purchasing these things for them so they know they have to rely on their own money.
- Help them really evaluate their purchase. Is this something that would really be fun long term? Will they want it tomorrow or will they get sick of it quickly? What does it do, is there something that can do more for the same price?
- Concentrate on the experience they will get from their purchase, not just the excitement of using their own money to buy something new. Get them thinking about whether there is more one way to use the new purchase, will they need to make more purchases in the future to keep it current and fresh? Think about the toys you already have, will this be more like the ones you use all the time, or more like the ones that sit in a pile and never get looked at again?
- Teach them to comparison shop. Go to a number of stores; find the item and items like it. Take the time to really show them the difference between an impulse by and making wise decisions. Get online and search for reviews of the product, does it hold up well, is it what they say it is. Look for pricing at different stores, is it better to purchase online and wait for it to come or can you save money by going to the store? You may also want to have them look for online coupons depending on their age.
- A big part of teaching children frugality, or anything else really, is sharing YOUR decision making process with them. Involve them in conversations about what you are spending your money on, why you’ve chosen the way you have. You can let them in on things you wish you could buy and why you aren’t making the purchase. Down the road when you are able to make a purchase that matters you can talk about how you have the money to make the purchase because you did not splurge earlier.
- Let them help make the small decisions. When you’re grocery shopping let your older kids have a look at something like paper towels, show them the difference in pricing and quality and let them help decide which the better value is.
- Teach them giving at the same time. If they have a friend or sibling with a birthday coming up it could be a great way to teach them fiscal responsibility by having them chip in for the gift if not outright pay for it themselves. They will be more involved in making the best choice and understanding that not all of their money will stay with them.
It can be a boring subject to sit down and talk about for the kids but teaching children frugality can be fun. There are lots of games you can play to help them learn and when they have actual cash in hand the lessons get a lot more real for them. Letting them see that you are thoughtful about purchases and teaching them how to comparison shop is one of the greatest gifts you can gift your children for their future.