Raising a saving-savvy kids

Put that down, Mommy! That is not part of the budget,” said my bright-eyed pre-schooler in a very assertive manner. My initial thought was one that I had perhaps raised a critic, but then hope dawned on me because this was proof that maybe, just maybe, I was doing something right. As we walked through the shopping mall, we had both just witnessed a child of similar age throw a tantrum over a toy – and the parents had given in and bought it for the child. As we looked around, we saw many enticing printed garments and shoes… lots of shoes. I could not resist reaching for a pair of marked-down shoes, but that was where my daughter interjected with her stern warning, grabbed them from my hands and tried to put them back on the rack.

This made me wonder, with the festive season fast approaching, if we take enough time to talk to our children about our finances and budgeting. Or if it is just so much easier to say “no” or “there’s no money”, but when your child knows you have just been paid, they do not really understand how there cannot be any money. Are we doing them justice and raising ‘saving-savvy’ kids? I want and need my daughter to understand that money does not grow on trees, contrary to what popular culture has led her to believe. So I try not to overload her with sensational reasons, but discuss money matters with her when we sit down together and draw up a budget for each month. This way she is conscious that every month, a certain percentage of our money goes towards our annual budget and proactively reinforces savings, because she has a goal. She understands that the possibility of a year-end vacation, and whether or not she will be able to indulge in a triple scoop ice cream, will all depend on how much we saved during the course of the year.

Another fun way to empower your tiny CFO (Chief Financial Officer) is to open a bank account for them and let them have access to it. Take them with you to the bank and let them be part of your short meetings or enquiries with your banker. Show your children how an ATM machine works. They need to manage their monthly cash that is safely kept in their wallet. Teach them about savings. This will empower them with financial skills for life. A piggy bank is the perfect money-saving tool for the younger children and they see it as fun. To assist your child in earning their own income, assign them the responsibility of certain household chores above their usual daily responsibilities. This will teach them that with honest hard work comes just reward.

Looking back, I thank my daughter for preventing me from purchasing those shoes. At the time, I absolutely felt like I needed them and it eased my guilt to know that they were on sale for less than 50%, but I knew better than to spend out of our budget – and my daughter did too! I wanted to use the “because I say so” line that parents find so convenient when they cannot think of a better reason to give their children, but I realised that my daughter had only acted that way because I had taught her about the responsible act of saving in the first place. I clutched the shoes, looked at them and sighed. “You are right, my baby,” I said with a smile and a twinge of pride as I returned them to their place on the shelf and said, “So, what’s next on our shopping list?”

How do you go about shopping and savings? Has your child ever made a smarter shopper out of you and improved your saving skills? Let’s talk about it!
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