While my husband and I are both gainfully employed, my little girl will never have a trust fund. She will not be getting a brand new car for her 16th birthday. She will, eventually, need to get a part-time job to help pay for college. My husband and I have a plan to raise a responsible, well-educated, financially literate member of society. I am going to share that plan with you. It is only fair to remember that every family is different and you may or may not agree with our goals and strategies. You are free to choose your own path and comment on this post to add your opinions, advice, suggestions and thoughts.
We plan on starting very young with our daughter. My parents started very young with my and my siblings. One particularly neat trick is to have what is called a “money jar”. My grandfather used to save his loose change in a big jar. When we were well behaved, he would allow us to reach in and grab as much change as we could with one hand. If we could count the change correctly, we could keep it. It always ended up being a relatively small amount of money, but we loved it. We got to show our family how smart we were and make money at the same time. The money jar will definitely be making an appearance in our home.
Make ‘em Earn it
My husband and I both had allowances growing up. We had chores that needed to be completed in order for money to change hands. For instance, I had to do the dishes every other night, do my own laundry, take out the garbage every third week, and occasionally mow the lawn. To us, there is nothing quite like the satisfaction of earning money through accomplishment. Plus, who wants to send their child off to college without knowing how to properly do the laundry or boil water?
Make it Fun
My mother was always trying to get my siblings and I to think that math was cool (bless her heart). One thing we all found particularly effective was the percentage game. My entire family is comprised of unabashed bargain shoppers who have been known to frequent local establishments during sales. When we were in middle school and high school, my mom would take us shopping for clothing and make us calculate the sale price of items in our heads before adding them to the cart. For example, if I wanted $50 jeans that were on sale for 30% off, I needed to let her know they would be $35 after the sale discount in order for them to be considered for purchase.
Make ‘em Participate
Kids need to be able to feel comfortable handling money, talking about money, and exchanging money. I will never forget watching my good friend’s seven-year-old daughter check out at a store. Her mother gave her the money to present to the checkout clerk. She was responsible for handing the clerk the money, as well as taking the change and counting it to make sure she received accurate change. “What a great idea!” I thought. It is so simple, but extremely valuable for the child. No two parents are the same. Raising children is no easy task, but with a plan, we can help our little ones grow up to be financially responsible folks with bright futures. What other ideas do you think could help kids learn about financial literacy?