How to teach children to save money

At around age seven or eight, kids start wanting big things. This is a prime opportunity to teach our children the value in saving money. Big, especially, is learning about saving versus spending. After our hard lesson (for all of us) last fall, Big asked for a wallet so that he could start saving.

The hardest thing for kids is to prioritize the value of saving. We all recognize the excitement in instant gratification as an adult–it’s often more exciting as a child. This makes it the parents’ responsibility to encourage our children to look past the shiny item on the shelf and remember what that they’re saving. We’ve come up with a few techniques to keep those goals in our children’s heads.

Sticky notes

When kids decide they’re determined to save for something big, we encourage them to grab a pad of post-its and write the item and the cost on a few. They then stick the note in their wallet, on their mirror, maybe even over the clock, so that no matter what flashes before them that will tempt them to spend, they’ll be reminded of the goal before the money leaves the wallet.

Goal charts

Fundraisers do it all the time using thermometer-type images to help reach a goal. By creating one with your kids and hanging it somewhere prevalent, they’ll be reminded just how much they need to save, and how close they are to getting to their goal.

saving money for kids

Divided banks

These Large Money Savvy Pig- Purple are great for so many purposes–most encourage giving, saving and spending and teach children to budget their “income.” We’ve learned that if we dedicate one of the sections of the bank to a goal, they’ll see the money collect. This option also gives the kids the ability to still spend some, and allows them a learning experience to determine where each penny will go.

Discussion

The more you talk about goals, the more you remind your child about his goal. Kids are far more likely to hear a voice in their heads that say “do I really need to buy that?” if buying choices were discussed at dinner the night before. Make spending and saving a regular conversation in your household as you all talk about things you want, things you need, the choices you make when you’re shopping and how you are saving. There’s nothing wrong with being honest with your child and saying “well, I really, really wanted that cake pop maker for our family, but I know we’re saving money to go to Disney World next fall. How are your savings going?” or “Was it hard to not spend money at Target today on that Beyblade? How do you feel now that you don’t have it, but you have more money in your wallet?”

Bonuses and income

Don’t be afraid to give your kids money to help them to save. My kids are always looking for opportunities to earn a few extra dollars and when I contribute to their savings, it’s opening up the idea that they’re one step closer to the reward. Sometimes when the children restrain themselves from spending, I give them a reward. For example, I’ll say “Wow! I’m so impressed that you didn’t buy that Pokemon card set. I saw how you were eyeing it up. That must have been really hard. But you’re also saving to buy a Kindle, right? You know what? I’m so proud of you that I’m going to pitch in an extra dollar to your Kindle fund.” Don’t do it every time because they’ll expect it, but offering a bonus every now and then rewards them, lets them know you’re paying attention and encourages them to save more for the goal. Just make sure that you don’t turn around and buy them the Pokemon card set! They’ll learn no value then. It’s okay for kids to want.

Enroll in a goal-setting program

The internet has many opportunities to teach goal-setting. Kidworth, a free online program, offers kids a chance to set a financial goal and share it with family and friends, giving them the option to contribute to saving and, eventually, to purchasing the goal, while tracking their success in saving.


As a Kidworth Ambassador, I was compensated for sharing these ways to help children learn to save. How do you teach your kids to save?

mom of 3 and wife living in the Philadelphia suburbs, Julie is a former elementary school teacher and a Public Relations manager. She is the owner/editor of Julieverse, a merchandiser with Chloe + Isabel (jewelryverse.com) and founder VlogMom and Splash Creative Media. A marketing strategist and freelance education and parenting writer by trade, Julie attempts to carve out time to enjoy playing with her kids, PTO, cooking and exercise.

© 2011, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.

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