Teach Your Children Well

I don’t think I’m alone, when I say that my parents didn’t teach me about money. Their parents didn’t teach them about money. Beyond, “No, that costs too much,” money was not really discussed. I also didn’t learn about money in school. Sure, I took Economics 101, and learned about Adam Smith, and John Kenneth Galbraith. Interesting course, but it taught me absolutely nothing about managing my own finances. Is it any wonder I’m in a financial mess? If most people got a similar financial education, is it any wonder that the economy is in a mess?

I am hoping to save my daughter from the same fate. She just had her first financial lesson, and I am very proud of her. Stella is six, and has been asking for a Pillow Pet for ages. With her birthday and Christmas both many months away, I decided to take this opportunity to teach her to save for something she wants. The pillow pet costs $20. I told her that if she saved half, I would give her the other half. I started giving her an allowance of $1 per week. I told her that she could keep any spare change that she found in the house or the car. (I made it very clear, however, that this did not mean going into Mommy’s or Daddy’s wallets and taking money!) It took her about seven weeks to save, and last week, we ordered the Orca Pillow Pet, and are anxiously awaiting its arrival. I was a little bit concerned that she would not be happy about turning over her money, but, she happily took it to the bank, and made her own deposit! She was very proud of herself, and so was I.

I’d like to put in a plug for the Moonjar. It’s a bank, specifically designed to teach children about money. It has three parts: Spend, Save and Share. Spend is where we put the money for the Pillow Pet. Save is for long-term savings, like college, or a car. Share is for giving. We are working on the Share section now. We’ve talked about what charities do, and the different groups they benefit, including hungry children, sick people, wild animals, abused horses etc. Stella has decided that she wants to give to a charity that helps dolphins and whales. So, we are concentrating on putting money in the Share box, we’ll research dolphin and whale charities, and decide on an amount, and send a check.

Of course, you don’t have to buy the Moonjar. Three jars of any sort will work just fine.  The best part of this project is that Stella is finding that dealing with money is fun. And I am having fun with her!


3 comments so far

  1. Kelly on

    Great blog Alex. What a priceless idea. I grew up not having any idea about money either. Learning the hard way is not easy.

  2. Whitney Wogan on

    I can really relate to this sentiment as I have two daughters (age 13 and 16). There’s a fabulous book I wish I’d known about when I was a younger mom. It’s called The First National Bank of Dad: A Foolproof Method for Teaching Your Kids the Value of Money by David Owen. He completely changed my mind about allowances and how to handle the “allowance issue.”

    For a long time, we didn’t give our kids allowances as we felt they should learn to earn money and not have it given to them. After reading his book, we did an about face and completely reversed our policy; it’s been a very positive change. Now, both of my daughters are learning how to reconcile their bank statements (and even liking it!) My younger daughter has become very interested in investing. She said recently that she feels like she started paying attention to money when she started to get her allowance and was allowed to use it as she saw fit.

    Alex, way to go for tackling this subject with your daughter. Once your daughter starts building up some savings, you can start teaching her about compound interest. That will really start to get her attention!

  3. riches2rags2riches on

    Thanks, Whitney. I will definitely look for that book.

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