Selling Your Kids on Saving Money
By Shannon M. Medisky
Money and kids are much like oil and water. Just as oil pools and doesn’t mix in water, so do money and kids often seem to not go together. Money burns a hole in their pocket. No sooner do they have a bit of petty cash, do they want to spend it. But it’s not their fault. Delayed gratification, after all, is a skill that’s acquired and learned, certainly not innate. And, frankly, it’s a skill that many adults haven’t even successfully mastered yet.
But what happens when this fiscal flirtation starts to infringe upon your own bottom line? Maybe you’re tired of hearing the begging, pleading and whining every time you’re out and about. Maybe you’re just tired of reminding your kiddo to stop letting the water run, to not leave the fridge door open or—for Heaven’s sake—to just stop viewing and treating money as if it were an endless resource. Whether it’s one of these, all of the above or for reasons entirely different than those listed here, there are lots of different techniques and strategies to help win your wee one over to the saving side. And here are a few places to start wooing them over:
Stress the choice factor. By choosing to save money in other areas, there will be more financial resources for other things. My kids may sigh when I have to tow them into yet another secondhand store. But I never miss an opportunity to remind them that by saving money on clothing, there’s more money available for fun things such as our annual vacation to Disneyland, a few secondhand books and/or even a small treasure from the toy department. (I’m not bribing compliance. After all, it helps stress my point. Had we opted to purchase their clothing elsewhere, there would be no such toy purchase!)
Saving doesn’t have to equate to sacrifice. All that saving money really requires is an open-mind, an adventurous spirit and a willingness to try something new. All of these traits are prized and praised in other areas. It just so happens they literally payoff when it comes to saving money too.
Be honest about everyday costs. Don’t keep everything a secret from your children. Be honest and open about the cost of everyday things. This needn’t be burdensome, but can be a very eye-opening experience. Help empower them to positively affect and diminish household costs by making them aware of the actual expense of things such as water, electricity and food.
Teach children the value of working smarter, not necessarily harder or longer. So many people get caught in the rat race and for what? To afford what they think they need. Teach your children to clearly distinguish between “need” versus “want” and help them gain the skills they need to successfully navigate and avoid the pitfalls, traps and temptations of advertising, product placement and long term product commitment.
Let them shop once in a while, virtually or otherwise. Let your children practice spending (and saving) money while still at home. Provide them with a set amount of money. Talk about what they need versus what they want, where they can get the best deal and how they can be sure they won’t later regret the purchase. Share your own spending experiences with them and invite them to help you plan for and purchase household purchases too.
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