Hi. My name is Karen and I am a human debit machine.
At least that’s what my children think.
“Mom. Can you give me money for [insert random, ever-changing item here]?” Sound familiar?
If you pop open a window and poke your head outside, you will likely hear this anthem ringing across our country. Bless their sweet little hearts.
My five year old recently asked for a Lego set and I explained that it cost a lot of money. Ever the optimist, he said, “That’s okay Mom. Just save up for a long time for it and then get it for me.”
Crystal Paine from Money Saving Mom reminds readers to not make, “We can’t afford that” our default answer. This simple statement can make children feel stressed about family finances and is a negative way of framing important truth.
Plus, we probably could afford the <random item>, so that is not really the issue. More likely we mean, “We are choosing to spend our money in different ways” or “That is not a priority for our money right now.”
So while we make our message more proactive, how can we stop giving our children too much money, and teach them important lessons along the way?
Stay Out of Stores
The expression “out of sight out of mind” is true. While it can be fun to browse through the aisles of Toys R Us, there is a good chance that needs will suddenly appear. Our little charges will now need things they didn’t even know existed before we enter the store.
It has been scientifically proven that this works well for adults too.
If you do need to go into a store, make the expectations clear in advance. Because we have been doing this for a while, my kids will ask, “Is it a Buying Day or a Looking Day?” Not sure if it will work with spouses too, but it might be worth a try if this is your challenge.
Remind them to Sleep On It
Walking away from a purchase for an hour can make a big difference. Sleeping on a decision is even better. Here are some questions children can ask as they ponder the purchase:
Is this going to sit and collect dust one day (like my Pokemon cards now do?)
Is this a trend or a fad? (like my Pokemon cards once were?)
Is there something else I’d rather spend my money on that will give me lasting memories? We encourage having fun over accumulating stuff around here….on a good day.
Encourage Them to Sell Things
One of my boys is currently sorting and counting Lego. He has three sets completely repackaged and ready to post for sale. Why? While still attached to his Lego, he has decided he can part with some of it because he wants to save for some items for his new business as a party magician. Yep – working to lauch another teenage entrepreneur!
There are so many lessons being learned through this tedious process:
Spending is easy – making money takes effort.
Earning involves perseverance and patience.
Reaching a goal is more satisfying than mindless entertainment.
Reward Extra Work
We have never paid our kids for chores – we do require weekly chores, but we have viewed it as part of contributing to the team. Plus why would they want earn money when they could have the thrill of plinking a clothespin instead? Ahem.
But I do remember being thrilled as a child to scramble around and do some high ticket jobs for my Mom. Back then cleaning toilets were the big winners at a 50 cents. EACH. (I’m pretty old so it was a lot back then).
I LOVE this idea for them to do extra jobs for extra money once in a while. They can set it up themselves and I know they will
nag remind me to have the cash clipped to this board. I also love that these can only be done once regular chores are completed. For other fabulous chore systems (paying or otherwise), pop over to my Lightly Frayed Pinterest Chore Board here.
Depending on the age of your children, there may be a few creative jobs they can do to earn money. Get a newspaper route. Walk dogs in the neighbourhood. Babysit Fish. Help a neighbour entertain her children before supper time. Make a list of ideas with your child and find one that best suits their interests and your schedule.
Once children become teenagers, their expenses skyrocket. They will want to go out to eat, see a movie or attend events with church groups etc. These can quickly add up.
My oldest and I worked together to launch his car detailing business. If he needs money for an upcoming trip, he knows that he has to hustle to pay his portion. I am thrilled to be able to support him by driving him to the jobs. He is learning responsibility and money skills and it helps me stick to my fairly tight budget.
It is easy to open up our wallets and let those dollar bills fly. But we are missing opportunities to teach children how to handle money responsibly when we do this.
What strategies do you use to curb your children from treating you like a debit machine? Share below so we can learn from each other.