When Caitlin was born, I handed over the pink piggy bank that I grew up with over to her by placing it in her room. Every so often, we clear out the small change from our wallets and throw them in there for her as a start to a savings account.
Fast forward a few years and Caitlin’s grown accustomed to putting money (small change, mostly) into her piggy bank. Every now and then her father will help her to count her money and place the high values in a safe place, starting the filling up ‘piggy’ process all over again.
Whilst Caitlin is probably still too small to understand the full value about working hard for your money and reward yourself for it, we’ve started to slowly explain the fact that if you behave, mommy and daddy will give you some money that you can either save in your piggy bank (which is what we prefer) or alternatively, you can buy yourself a sweetie the next time we go to the shops.
So this whole process got me thinking about how I was taught money values and how it influences your approach towards money, spending, saving and so forth. Whilst I was one of those very fortunate kids growing up in a home where there was never a shortage of anything necessary, I still had the value of hard work entrenched into me. My parents are entrepreneurs by default, which means that shop-talk was always present and there was (and still is) always work that needs to get done. Whilst my kid-self didn’t understand why they were constantly working like all…the…time, my adult-self understand that raising four kids and maintaining a functioning household takes a lot of extra hours and hard work.
To me, understanding the values of hard work and the value of money totally goes hand in hand. So, the basic steps that we follow in teaching Caitlin the value of both are as follow:
- Entrench that money doesn’t grow on trees. We don’t usually carry a lot of cash on us, but it also provides the opportunity to show Caitlin that money isn’t always readily available and we need to work well with what we have.
- You can’t have both; sometimes you need to make choices. There’s always that moment in the shops when there is more than one item that Caitlin would like. Now, whilst the easies option would be to buy both for her, it also gives the opportunity to teach her that you cannot always get both that you want, you need to choose what you’d like most.
- “I need it” vs. “I want it.” The difference between need and want is still a difficult one for little ones to grasp, however we’re trying very hard to teach her the difference (especially when it comes to sweets and toys)
- Include her in the paying process when going to the stores. We always give her the opportunity to hand the items she wants from the store to the cashier and give her the opportunity to hand over the card (even if it’s just the store loyalty card) for payment.
- Combine money, math and chores. If you help mommy with the washing or picking up of toys then you are rewarded and so it adds up.
There are various other ways of teaching money values to kids, however the above, I’d like to think, is currently appropriate for Caitlin’s age. As she’ll grow older, we’ll include her in decisions like:
- Setup a savings goal.
- Decide which item is the best buy.
- Making money in fun ways.
- Giving to charities.
Ultimately, we hope that teaching Caitlin the value of money and hard work will equip her for adult life.
Why not share how you teach your child(ren) the value of hard work and money?