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One of the ways we teach our kids to spend wisely is by first giving them their own money to work with. It is a well known fact that we are all more careful with our own money than we are with money that belongs to someone else. I think the same is true for kids. We found very quickly that rather than just telling our Son we couldn’t afford something, or telling him no all the time that if he had his own money to spend he learned the value of a dollar in a way he wouldn’t have if we just gave him the money or provided the items he wanted.
The Value of $1
Something that has been really hard for my younger kids to grasp is how expensive some things are. If they are looking at an item that is $20 or an item that is $80 they often don’t know the difference if I just tell them “It’s too expensive” if they have their own money and they have worked hard to earn $10 they quickly realize that $20 is a lot of money and will take a long time to save and that $80 is an even bigger number. It’s amazing to me how fast Zach picked up on the value of money once he understood how hard he had to work to earn $1.
Buying on Sale
If you use a lot of coupons like I do, I’m sure you have told your kids “We aren’t buying that today because we don’t have a coupon”. I recently had the chance to teach my Son about Buying on Sale when the Target Toy Clearance rolled around. He had been asking for a Thomas the Train Engine and he had been saving hard to buy 1 of the engines he wanted. When we took our money to the store we found a Thomas the Train Engine Set on clearance 70% off that included both an Engine and a Track Set, this was actually about $5 less than the 1 engine he had been saving for. I loved watching it all come together in his head as we stood in the store and talked about how he could buy one item on sale and pay less than the item at full price + he was getting an engine and a track set!
Because he made the decision to buy a cheaper item that was on sale instead of the full price item I let him spend the extra money on another toy from the clearance sale. I explained that he was able to get 2 toys on sale for the same price as 1 toy full price and that it was always best to wait for an item to go on sale or until you have a coupon for it. These real world examples of Buying and making purchasing decisions are a great way to teach your kids about money in the every day decisions at the store.
For a 4 year old my son can be pretty tricky, A few weeks ago while saving up for something he really wanted he asked “Mommy Can We Just Buy It Now?” I reminded him he didn’t have enough money yet and he quickly replied “But you could give me the extra money”. Wow, what a great time to teach him the principle of Paying Cash! At this point in time he only needed $2 to buy what he was saving for, I know it would have been easy to give him the $2 and everything in me really wanted to because well I’m a giver by nature and It would have made both of us smile :) But I knew that wasn’t the principle I wanted to train in him so I reminded him that it wouldn’t take too much longer to save and we talked about always waiting till we had the money before we made a purchase.
While it is hard for kids to use or have Credit Cards I do think it’s important at an early age to teach the principle of only buying what you can afford. Regardless of how much money you make this is one of those things that gets us all because we live in an impatient society where everyone wants things right now, so learning to save, plan and spend wisely is one of our priorities as we teach our kids about money!
I’d love to hear your suggestions on how you teach your kids to spend wisely!
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