Okay, maybe that headline is a bit of an exaggeration.
But I face a dilemma when it comes to parenting. Most of us hope that our children will surpass us. That they will be more successful, more leisured, more content.
While the more content part is always possible, the fact is that in my family it is very likely that we have reached the pinnacle of wealth. As a physician, my husband makes a very good income. We do our best to save a chunk, give a lot away, and live in a nice but still upper-middle class home. We don't have a cottage. We don't have a boat. We don't have first class furniture.
But it's very unlikely that my children will have this kind of income. It's far more likely that they'll struggle to get by, like everyone else, and like we did when we were starting out.
So one thing I've always been conscious about in my parenting is to teach my kids how to be frugal, and how not to expect that money will always be easy, or that they can always buy whatever they want. Here are some of the ways I've done this:
1. Start Allowances Young
When the girls were three, they started with allowances. They earned $1/week per year of age, which they had to divide up as follows: 10% tithing, 30% spend now (usually chocolate), 30% save for something they want, and 30% university. They do that with every bit of money they make, even today when my oldest makes a lot from baby-sitting and selling homemade jewellery.
And with that came the responsibility for buying their own treats. They've had to buy their chocolate bars and their ice cream cones. Sure we've bought our share, but on the whole, they know not to ask me for candy. If they do, I always reply, "did you bring your money?". That way they learn the value of money, and that they need to think about what they spend their money on.
I have a whole chapter on teaching kids good responsibility with money in my book, To Love, Honor and Vacuum! Do you have it yet? If not, you can get an autographed copy here, or get it from Amazon:
2. Start Clothing Allowances Young
When my oldest turned 13, she received her clothing allowance. Now she has to keep track of her money, and all the things she'll need to buy this year. I sat down with her in January of that year (her birthday happens to be at the beginning of the calendar year, so it's handy), and we went over all the items of clothing she'd need. I paid for the basics: a certain number of pairs of pants, certain number of shirts, dresses, etc. And I didn't pay a lot of money, since often we buy at thrift or second hand stores. So I gave her an allowance of about $9-$10 a shirt, for instance, not the $20 that it can cost new in a store.
And then I handed her the money. And she made it last! She's not doing as well this year, but then, she's also making her own money, and soon she'll have to dip into her own to buy her clothes. And that's fine, if that's where she chooses to spend her own money. At least she's learning how to budget!
3. Charity is Non-Negotiable
I suppose it's strange to say that we "force" charity, but we always have. We've demanded that they tithe, and every Christmas one of our rituals is poring over the Christmas catalogues we get from charities and dividing up the remaining charity money for that year, both theirs and ours. We pray over the needs and send it out.
And what I've found is that the girls are becoming generous on their own. Rebecca has frequently given away all the money in her wallet to a friend on a missions trip, or an appeal. And she's done it cheerfully. When you raise them from the beginning to understand that it's not our money, it's God's, they have a better attitude. We've also been to Kenya with them twice to help them to see what an African orphanage is like, so they know how much we have. And I think they get it.
4. Buy Second Hand
We buy everything second hand. We buy clothes second hand (not always, but we do check the second hand stores first). We buy cars second hand. We're bargain lovers! We don't need to be, but even if you have the money, why wouldn't you try to save? It gives you more to give away!
And then the girls learn how to find a bargain when they're older.
5. Cook Cheaply
One of my favourite things is teaching the girls how to cook (I began when they were 10) and helping them to figure out how much different meals cost. At every dinner we often have that discussion: how much was this meal per person? It helps them to see which is an expensive meal and which is not. It also helps them to see how expensive restaurant eating is (and that's the big failing I have as a parent. We eat out way too much). But I love cooking with leftovers, making casseroles and homemade soup. And then they see how cheaply you can get by! I have visions of them in university feeding a whole pile of friends because they'll be two of the few who can cook, and they'll know how to do it inexpensively!
What tips do you have about teaching kids about money? I'd love to know! Leave them in the comments!
About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.