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Raising Kids Who Understand About Saving

Updated on April 30, 2016

We all want to give our kids more than we had as a child - I think that is a completely natural feeling! Unfortunately, we've gotten to a point in time where kids, and young adults, expect to be handed things. Whether it be the best clothes, new cars, free college or immediate promotions! Maybe you, as a parent, can afford to accommodate in this manner, but let me assure you that unless you are going to hire, and pay a salary to your child forever, you are doing no one any favors! Read on for some tips on how to teach your child, from a young age, that they are not "owed" a free ride.

Are you bribing your child, or did they earn it?

Gifts are for Special Occasions

Who wouldn't love to go to the store - or the bathroom - alone when you have a toddler? It's not always possible and sometimes your mini-me is just as unhappy to go as you are to take them. But if you are down to your last roll of toilet paper, or out of milk, it has to happen!

How easy is it to bribe your child to behave in the store? "Dear little Jimmy, if you can just sit tight while mommy gets the shopping done, I'll buy you a power ranger before we head home."

As soon as you start this, you are setting an expectation. Every time you go to the store, and Jimmy doesn't want to go, then he's going to expect a toy to pacify him. That may be affordable when they are 2-3 years old, but developing that behavior brings with it bigger and bigger expectations the older they get.

One suggestion I would make, because sometimes you're out and have to run the errand before you go home, is to have a stash of 1-2 toys hidden in the car. Before you ever get out of the car, let Jimmy pick his favorite to take in the store with him! This keeps him busy, and keeps you out of the toy aisle!

The Toy Aisle

Avoid, avoid, avoid!

For the reasoning I mentioned above, the toy aisle should not be on your normal cart path in the store! If you have no willpower, or little Suzy's tears send you over the edge, then go to grocery stores that don't have a toy aisle (instead of the ever convenient super center).

The only time the toy aisle should be entered is when it's a special occasion. If your child earned a gift for good grades, or some other positive behavior, they should understand that! "Suzy, we are so proud of your grades this year that we are going to treat you to a new toy for you to enjoy over the summer!" If you want to buy her a bicycle, that's fine, make sure that she understand the special circumstance for the event.

How often do you buy your child a toy in the store?

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Saving Money

From the minute your child understand money, and what it's used for, you should teach them about saving it! If your 3-year-old earns a dollar for picking up all of their toys - pay them in quarters. Have two piggy banks - one for spending and one for saving - and have them put half in each bank.

When the Tooth Fairy comes - do the same thing. And birthday money. And chores. If they start young understanding that you should save as much as you spend, then it's easier to do that when they are teens, and adults for that matter!

Say Billy earns $50 a week at a part time job in high school - how easy is it to just acknowledge that he earned that and let him spend it as he pleases? But how much of a bigger impact will you have on his life, and the life of his future family, if you teach him to save and to spend responsibly?

The Big Stuff - a Car!

Say your teen is about to turn 16, and they want the freedom that comes with a car! This is most likely the first big lesson you will get to teach them. Cars are not free. Insurance is not free. Gas is not free. Movies are not free - and on, and on, and on.

Helping your child is absolutely okay! But handing them things, without them having any "skin in the game", is not okay! (Look at a certain 2014 football draft pick if you need a prime example for why you shouldn't do this!)

Your child's first car, while they are under your roof, should be a used car - their first new car should be something they earn with their first real job! Whether you decide to have them pay the car insurance, or just all of the expenses that come with a car (gas, going out, etc.) that is up to you - but please do it!

You Will Reap What You Sow

Raising your child is the most important thing you will do! You are developing a person who will have an impact on the world, whether it's in a positive or negative way. If they understand that they have responsibilities, that money (and things) won't be handed to them, you will be raising a child that will succeed in this world and be able to raise their children the same way!


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