Can children learn money management? Yes!
Guest blogger Trent Hamm gave his children an allowance each week, broken up into quarters. What did they do with their quarters?
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Not using the allowance as a form of punishment or leverage has worked well. We want to establish that the basic things we expect from them around the house, like clearing the table after meals, basic politeness, and so on, are not tied to any form of compensation. Such basic behavior is expected. Their allowance is merely a tool to teach simple money management. Our children seem to respond better when there are not bribes involved – bribery works well the first time, but after that, would you really expect them to do that thing you want them to do without compensation?Skip to next paragraph
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The children anticipate allowance day. Typically, allowances are doled out on a Sunday, and both of our children anticipate it and request it. They’ll often ask on Saturday if that day is “allowance day” and an allowance request is usually out there by noon on Sunday. It doesn’t seem to be a money-grabbing thing; I think they just have fun putting the coins in their bank and then lifting them up to feel how heavy they are.
Our oldest child is starting to understand prices and what they mean. This not only builds on his allowance, but upon many of our discussions when shopping. He now understands that things have different prices and different costs. You have to spend more of yourself in order to acquire a more expensive item. Spend more of yourself? When you spend money, you’re really spending time and energy. In my son’s case, it’s time.
He doesn’t always ask how much it will cost; he often asks how many weeks he will have to save to pay for the item. He already has a basic understanding that money represents your invested time and effort. Money is simply a piece of paper that says I’ve invested a certain amount of time and energy in this. Deeply understanding that changes your relationship with money. It makes the money less abstract than before and much more real. It makes debt more frightening and good choices more appealing. Invested money, which earns interest, seems almost miraculous.
These are exactly the lessons we want them to learn from this allowance experiment. These are small, early steps, but they’re all signs that they’re heading down the right road, one that will put them in a place where they won’t repeat the money mistakes of their father.
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