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How do you teach kids the value of money?

Updated on July 23, 2013

If you are reading this hub I assume you want to teach your children the value of money, and make them realise that 'money doesn't grow on trees'. I was one of the fortunate children, (kids if you prefer that term), and whilst I didn't really appreciate it at the time, my parents did manage to bring me up to truly respect money, not take it for granted and certainly not treat it as if it 'grew on trees.' If you want to know how they achieved this I hope you will read on and see that teaching your children to be financially responsible and to have a respect for where money comes from mainly requires a degree of common sense, and of course some willpower on your part. In the long term your adult children will thank you for this, even if at a young age they stubbornly refuse to see your stances as fair, and complain loudly about the rules you set for them.

Growing up I was like most children, always pestering my parents for something, either a toy, a treat in the supermarket, a horse riding lesson, a horse, etc. Most of the time the answer was no, and for the smaller items I was expected to use my pocket money (which I should add was actually only about two thirds of what other children in my school were receiving). If I was out shopping with my Mum and I wanted a packet of sweets or a drink I would be expected to use my pocket money, and if I didn't have any cash on me the amount borrowed would be deducted from my pocket money the following weekend. This started from an early age, probably when I was about seven years old.

As the next few years passed the luxuries I wanted in life naturally became more expensive than packets of sweets and cans of pop, but although my pocket money had been increased by about ten pence per year, the money still didn't stretch all that far. By now I was at an age I just wanted one thing, and that was a horse or a pony. I had spent many fruitless hours pestering my parents to allow me to have one, entering competitions to win a pony, adding 'a pony' to my letters to Santa and so on. If I couldn't have an actual pony, then I wanted horse riding lessons so I could spend time around horses and learn to ride. In the meantime I devoted every spare minute I had reading scruffy pony books bought from second hand book shops or from jumble sales.


I admit I did become frustrated that one of my friends had a riding lesson every week, and another friend had two lessons a week, in each case paid for by their parents. In my case the only option was to use every penny of my £3 a week pocket money to pay for riding lessons at what was considered the poorest quality riding school on Guernsey. Doing this forced me to evaluate what really mattered to me, and whilst it left me no other money for luxuries like the cinema or sweets, I did enjoy my riding lesson for an hour each week and felt it was worth the sacrifice.

After a year the prices went up to £3.50 per hour for a lesson, and I panicked that I would have to give up my lessons altogether. Thankfully my Grandmother lived with us, and she kindly helped me out and gave me 50 pence a week pocket money so I could continue my lessons. Perhaps now is a good time to add that I did earn my pocket money, and was expected to feed and clean out our chickens, fill our coal scuttle and often light the fire, help rake up grass cuttings in the garden and many other basic chores in return for the money I received.


Eventually my love of horses resulted in my going on a riding holiday/vacation with some friends in Canterbury in England. I was given a choice by my parents, either to go on the family holiday to North Wales, or have my horse riding holiday with my friends, I could not have both. I chose the riding holiday and had possibly the best holiday of my entire childhood. One problem arose from this holiday though, and that was that I totally fell in love with the beautiful horse I was allocated during my stay. She was a 15.3hh dappled grey mare called Dixie, the kindest, most gentle horse you could imagine, and with a canter that was as smooth as silk.

It came as quite a shock to me to find out that the stables where we were staying would sell off all their horses at the end of each holiday season and replace them with new ones at the start of the next holiday season. Needless to say I was not willing to give up on my beloved Dixie, and I wanted her more than I had ever wanted anything in my life. Result, I returned home to pester the life out of my parents to allow me to have this horse and get her shipped from Canterbury in England to the Channel Island of Guernsey where we were located, after all, we now lived in an old farmhouse complete with two stables and a small paddock, so why shouldn't I be allowed this horse?

I was confident I could talk them around because Dixie was only £750, and the extra costs to get her to Guernsey only brought the price up to £1100. I should have known better, there was no way my parents would agree to this, after all, it wasn't the cost of the horse that was the problem, it was the ongoing upkeep costs, 'food, hay, vets bills' etc. I honestly felt they were being totally unfair, and it wasn't as if they couldn't afford the £1100, but they were adamant it was not going to happen. My frustration must have been evident by my constant sobbing and pleading that I had to have this horse, whatever it took. Eventually a compromise was found, my parents would lend me a deposit of £250 to put down on Dixie, and if the stables agreed to keep her for a year as a working horse in their stables, I would have that year to raise the funds to buy her myself. Assuming I was successful I would then be responsible for all bills and costs relating to her upkeep. I jumped on this like a drowning man grabs for a life buoy, and fortunately for me the stables were happy to go along with the arrangement.


To cut a very long story short I spent the next year not only studying for my exams, but also holding down three part time jobs, as well as doing chores around home in return for further pocket money. Even my sister was paying me 50 pence per night to do her share of each night's dish washing duties. At the end of the year I not only achieved excellent exam results, but I also raised all but £200 of the money I needed to buy Dixie and bring her to Guernsey. My Mum was so impressed by my efforts she gave me the £200 I needed to hit my goal and allow my dream to come true.

The best feeling in the world was the night Dixie arrived at our house. It was midnight when we unloaded her from the horsebox, and the sense of achievement and pride I felt was indescribable. At this point I knew that the way to make your children appreciate the value of money and realise it doesn't grow on trees was to make your children work for the things they wanted in life, even if you were lucky enough to be financially in a position to give them everything they wanted anyway.

Even after this achievement I was given full responsibility for the ongoing costs associated with owning a horse, and ultimately this was over half of my wages each week after I started work. It was still worth every second of the effort involved, and I doubt I would have fully appreciated the joy of having my own horse if both the horse, and all I needed for her had been paid for by my parents.


The moral of this story is that no matter how much you feel you can afford to spend on your children, it isn't always a good thing to do so. How else are they supposed to make something of their lives and to learn the value of money? Children need to work hard for the things they want in life. Do you want your children to grow up always looking for the easy route to the things they want? Could you honestly respect your adult children if they always came running to you when they faced any financial difficulties in their lives? By making them work and save up for the luxuries they want from an early age you are building their characters for the future and showing them that hard work and saving will help them to achieve their goals in life. By all means leave them a good inheritance if you are in a position to, and hopefully by the time they receive it they will not only have taught their own children the same healthy respect for money, but will have ensured their children realise money most definitely doesn't grow on trees (often also known as parents!)

Top Tips to Teach Children the Value of Money

  • Make your children earn their pocket money as opposed to simply being given it as a weekly gift.
  • Encourage them to get part- time jobs to earn extra pocket money or find industrious ways to make money from home.
  • Praise them when they are successful at saving up for things they want.
  • Don't give in to them pestering, crying or demanding you buy them the things they want.
  • Help them with advice on how to raise funds for themselves.
  • When they start work charge them a sensible amount of rent/keep per week for living at home, and make sure this does actually cover your costs as opposed to you ending up subsidising them.
  • If you really have to help them out financially, especially when they are older, then charge them interest on the monies you lend them so they don't take you for granted.

Do you make your children work for their pocket money?

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Do you charge your adult children living at home a realistic rent/keep that covers your costs?

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Are you guilty of simply buying your children things they want without making them earn and save up the money themselves?

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Start Teaching Your Children the Value of Money Early.

#4 of 30 in March 2012 Challenge


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    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Thanks editorsupremo, I totally agree, children today are spoiled rotten in a huge amount of cases, and this turns them into adults who think the world owes them a living. It sounds like you have got the right idea from your own parents, i.e. 'spend half and save half'. I like the sound of that idea :)

      Glad you enjoyed this hub btw, thanks for commenting :)

    • editorsupremo profile image

      editorsupremo 6 years ago from London, England

      Times have certainly changed from my day. I think parent nowadays overcompensate and the children now expect to get whatever they want, when they want it.

      I have taught my children to spend half and save half of whatever they have. That's what my dad taught me and I still do it to this day.

      Excellent hub and good tips BTW!

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      It was not my intention to 'correct you' the girls, I didn't realise you were unsure about the 'Mustard and Cress' idea for children based on your comment. Honestly any child can do this, but you can always help them out a little by approaching the larger businesses like hotels or restaurants with them. I have certainly done this and done well, and it truly is 'child's Play' (forgive the pun) :)

    • the girls profile image

      Theresa Ventu 6 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Oh, I stand corrected. Perhaps I enjoyed reading the article too much! I'll try doing the mustard at home and hope to succeed :-)

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Thanks 'the girls', this is an easy pocket money earner for children, and whilst I don't have children of my own, I have earned money from doing this at home myself :)

    • the girls profile image

      Theresa Ventu 6 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      I like your article on growing Mustard and Cress at home. Your children must be financially sufficient by doing this business by themselves.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Thanks christianajohan, nice to know you understand the message I am trying to get across :)

    • christianajohan profile image

      christianajohan 6 years ago

      Just like when we are still kids. My siblings are not used to keep money because our grandmother would like to train us not to spend extravagantly and to teach us the value of money.

      I learned a lot from your story here also. Even though we would like to love and to give all to our kids, we need to be in control of the money in giving them.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      That is truly a fabulous comment Kelly. You sound so much like me in some ways, I have been 'caught' selling peacock feathers to guests in a hotel we stayed at on one of our trips to Wales, and I also got caught selling 'free' info brochures on local tourist attractions to people visiting my Dad's cabaret shows (he was an impresario). I told the people 'Daddy was rich and Mummy was poor, so I needed the money for Mummy'. This might have been okay as a laugh, but dad was not 'Rich' and the guests had just seen Mum singing (Bel Canto trained) on stage in a full ballgown. Mum was highly embarrassed by my doing this. I just thought I was being enterprising lol. I also used to charge my Dad to comb his hair, something silly like 2p for an hour, not a great 'get rich quick scheme' I have to say.

      I totally agree with you about the types of adults the spoiled kids often turn into as well.

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Misty - I learned to value money the hard way. My parents had none when I was growing up. I thought it was SO unfair! I sold Christmas cards when I was 10 and up each year for 1 dollar a box, babysat, and delivered Avon for money! lol I did have designer clothes! lol BUT ... the very interesting thing I have noted - I have run into some of the the kids that I thought were so lucky because you know, their parents bought them fancy cars at 16 and they never had to work...almost all of them have not been successful adults! A few of the "lucky ones" have been suicidal, divorced several times, or are broke my kids work for most stuff! I do tend to be generous - too much as I want them to have it better than me - but they have chores and an allowance.

      This is terrific advice!

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Interesting point of view Bob, the problem is that if they are lucky enough to 'land on their feet' (financially speaking) they will never appreciate hardship or the rewards of getting out of life what they put into it. They might marry wealth, win money on a lottery, land a very highly paid job etc, but if they just spoil their children as a result the children grow to believe these luxuries are something that they are somehow 'entitled to' and this message gets passed on to the next generation. End result, they grow up thinking the world owes them a living!

    • profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago

      Going bankrupt did marvels for me as regards relationships with family, kids and g-kids. But I am still of the persuasion of spoil 'em when you can, they will find out about the cruel realities of life soon enough


    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Thanks Marcy, she was a lovely and very beautiful horse, 3/4 Thoroughbred and 1/4 Arab, all wrapped up in a very dark dappled grey package. Gentle and adorable. I extended her name to 'Dixie's Enchanted Spirit' when I got her. A truly amazing experience :)

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 6 years ago from Planet Earth

      What an amazing story! I admire you for having the knowledge of what you wanted in life, the dedication to going after it with all your energy, and the maturity to learn from it. Dixie sounds like a gem, and she was certainly lucky to have you in her life. This is a fantastic lesson on what children are capable of doing. Voted up, useful, interesting and awesome!

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Thanks must65gt, let's hope he carries this lesson on to his own children and explains to them what his own experience was with the Mustang coupe tale. Hindsight is great so long as we pass the message along so others don't make the most common mistakes :)

    • must65gt profile image

      must65gt 6 years ago

      great hub filled with useful information; voted up! Unfortunately many parents do not make their children earn their way, My children thought I was harsh. My son earned 300.00 to buy a 66 Mustang coupe. I told him I would help him restore it, however he had to keep his grades up and do his chores. Sadly, the car still sits in the garage in the same condition as when it was brought home. The good side, he now understands why I set down the rules. Hindsight is always 20/20.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Thanks Paradise, it was a great lesson to teach me I agree, and it made me a better person as a result. I hope other parents learn from my story and avoid making the mistake of just paying out for whatever their kids want without any thought as to what lesson this gives to their children. To be honest Grandparents are just as guilty of this behaviour, and the parents should make sure they speak to their own parents to avoid them spoiling the grandchildren in the same way.

      So delighted my words 'inspired you'.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Excellent hub. I loved your story. You learned so much by having to come up with the money for the horse yourself. Your parents really did that right, and resisted the temptation to just go ahead and make their precious daughter happy by buying her what she wanted. Kudos to you, and to your parents, friend. And thank you so much for sharing this story. In an American society apparently dedicated to rampant consumerism, I'm very happily inspired by your words.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Thanks Brian, I must admit it annoys the hell out of me when I see parents simply buying their kids the luxuries they want instead of making them work for them or save up. The kids will never appreciate those items in the same way as if they had really had to make sacrifices of their own to get them.

    • BRIAN SLATER profile image

      Brian Slater 6 years ago from England

      Excellent tips here, I think something has happened over the past 20 or 30 years or so, kids today just seem to want everything today and their parents try to give it to them! There is a lack of having to wait or earn the money needed just like you did. Voted up :)


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