Talking to kids about money

In light of the current economic turn, have you discussed how to handle money with your children? I was thinking back to when I was younger and that topic of money and the family budget was never discussed. We just always assumed we were rich! Well, at 7 years old in the early 70’s anything over a dollar made you rich! We were never really taught to ‘save’ our money. It wasn’t until I wanted to get married that I really learned how to budget and that was because we had to pay for our own wedding. We had to come up with $18,000.00 on our own. That meant, everything we made went right into our wedding fund. So that got me thinking. Two months ago we sat down with the kids and explained our situation to them. We told that that things were going to change and that they were going to start to see the changes. That meant, no more fast food just because, that meant, no more going to the movies on the first day it opened, that meant, no expensive clothing, that meant, if we went into a store, they would not be leaving with anything other than the food we went in to go and get. It was a lot for them to take in, but they have adjusted beautifully! When we go out, I tell them, the only way they can buy something is if they buy it with their own money.

My oldest who is now 11 saves her money and really puts a lot of thought into whether or not she wants to buy something. Half the time she puts what she ‘thought’ she ‘wanted’ back because then she won’t have as much money. You can totally see the wheels turning when she realizes she won’t have as much money and it really makes me proud to see that she has started to determine a want from a need at such an early age. Perhaps if I was taught that at her age, I wouldn’t be in this situation I am currently in.

My son on the other hand is going to be 8 and he still wants things right then and there. However, he knows that he doesn’t have the money because he can’t save any money over $5.00 without spending it. I am consistent with him and I hope that he too will catch on that you can’t always get what you want when you want it and that you do have to save for things that are important to you. That he too will be able to to determine a want from a need.

My youngest amazes me too! She is going to be 5 and when we go out, she picks up things left and right, holds them through out the store and when it is time to leave, I have told her we are not getting that about 5 times and as we approach the registers she very nicely tells me that maybe Santa can get that for her, to which I reply with a simple, “maybe”.

What have been the conversations like with your children? Are you open with your family budget to a degree that they will understand? We currently have two “Family Fund” jars on our kitchen counter and what ever loose change the kids find laying around, they decide which “Fund” is more important to them and put the money in it to some day be able to go into the store and purchase exactly what they have saved up for. One fund is to redecorate their bathroom (we have a babyish looking bathroom that does need updating now that they are not babies) and they have already picked out what they want to decorate with! The other is for a dinner at our favorite restaurant, Texas Roadhouse! We love their food and it always costs us an arm and leg when we have been able to go. By saving and working as a family for two things that we ‘want’ to do, it is bringing us closer together and the kids are playing an active role in the family budget and they too have a sense of pride when we reach our goals.