Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Teaching Kids About Money

Mr. Peevie and I have not been the most consistent, creative, or effective at teaching our kids about money, so when the topic came up on my Door County Girlfriends weekend, my pointy little ears perked right up.

My friend Bob the Builder has this strategy for teaching her three kids the value of money and how to be responsible for their own money: She gives each of them a monthly allowance, in staggered amounts to reflect their varying needs and ages. Even the eight-year-old gets a chunk of money, which he carries around in his very own billfold.

All of the children are responsible to keep their money in a safe place; to bring it with them when they want to spend it; to save some for long-term/college; to save for larger purchases; and to put some in the offering at church. So when 8-year-old Carnegie wants to buy a $50 electronic game, he's got to save up until he has enough money to pay for it. If 12-year-old Linebacker wants go out for pizza with his buddies, he brings his own cash. And if 15-year-old Nutmeg wants a pair of Uggs, well, she buys them herself.

The kids are responsible for chores around the house, of course, including keeping their rooms clean and other tasks. One school of thought opposes tying allowance to chores: kids should help around the house because they are household members, and not because they get money for it. What if they don't need the extra cash one week, or what if they're not money-motivated? Do they not have to do their chores? (Here's a helpful little article that covers both sides.)

Whether we tie allowance to chores or not, it seems to me that parents do need to ensure that their kids have the opportunity to learn to handle money, and they also need to teach their kids to help around the house. Mr. Peevie and I are doing slightly better at this task than at the money-management teaching.

It all sounds so simple and logical, but I have been missing the boat on financial-management teaching since C. Peevie was old enough to smile and say "Money!" for the camera. We promise them allowance, and then don't give it to them. We borrow money from them to pay the pizza guy. (They always seem to have way more cash on hand than I ever do!) We hand them change at church to put in the offering--instead of teaching them to put their own contribution in the plate.

With C. Peevie, we've been keeping a spreadsheet. Every month we write his allowance in the income column. If we give him cash, or he makes a purchase, we post it on the debit side. But this system doesn't really put him in charge of his own money; it puts the onus on us to keep the accounting up to date.

With A. Peevie and M. Peevie, we never have the dollars to hand over. Then, when they want to buy something, we either say no or we hand them the cash--and neither of these choices actually teaches them to handle, save, or be responsible for their own money.

So now Mr. Peevie and I are turning over a new leaf. We are going to teach our kids how to handle and be responsible for their own money--and maybe we'll learn something in the process.

Also, I'm counting on them to support me in my old age.


Anonymous said...

That's totally us too. She gets $4 a week that she never actually sees. And she asks and I tellher I'll give it to her later. Who knows how much I owe her now. And my dh is worse. He tells her we're not obligated to give her anything and we'll give her allowance when we want to. Idon't agree with that. If we told her she was getting an allowance, then she should get it. Nonetheless, she was able to save up enough to buy an expensive doll that I refused to get her. But only b/c I wouldn't let her spend her money on any little thing. We really need to get on a plan and be consistent.

E. Peevie said...

Yeah, I agree that if you tell her she gets an allowance, you have to at least intend to give it to her. Being consistent with the plan is what's hard for me.

But how cool that she saved up her money and bought herself something that she really wanted. That is a great lesson in money management! How old is she again--8 I think? That's great.