Are you sitting down? Because I’m about to reveal a fact that will shock you: In the first 18 years, kids earn, on average, $25,000 in gifts and income. That’s a lot of money. But I bet you’re like most adults and are now looking around saying “$25,000?! Where did that go?” And then, about a minute later thinking “waitaminute. I need to do something to help my kids get their hands on that money.”
Sadly, most people see the $25,000 go right out the door. The value of the hundreds of products kids play with is astounding. And all those plastic and wooden toys they love so much for 2 weeks? They add up. Sadly, they add up to a lot more value than putting them out with the garbage at the end of their welcome stay in your home.
And I’m pretty sure that that welcome stay isn’t too long, right?
So. What can we do?
Well, I’m not about to tell you to stop getting your kids toys, nor am I going to tell you to stop accepting gifts for your kids. Remember when you were young and you had your first Christmas without a toy? It was awful, right? The tears. The jealousy of your sister playing with her new Barbie Townhouse while you kicked at your sweater and VC Andrews book… (what? That wasn’t just me, was it?)
You don’t want to do that to your kid.
But what you can, and should, do is teach your child to analyze their wants and needs. Help him to prioritize what gifts are most important to him and to show him that you can put a value on these gifts. By teaching your child to focus on things he wants over time, and not the latest trend of plastic, he’ll learn the value of saving and earning.
It starts in an honest conversation, one that should reflect on your personal life in a story. Perhaps you’re considering a big purchase like a TV, or you remember saving your bike route pennies to buy a favorite pair of Air Jordans–share that with your child! Tell him how inspired you were with a goal that you set. Engage with your child. Ask him if there’s something he really, really wants to have and discuss how he can save. Share ways you saved. Tell him about the struggles of saving versus spending on smaller things. Share how you set challenges for yourself.
I bet you had a wallet or an envelope or an underwear drawer to stash your cash. I bet you shared your goals with your Grandmother. I’m sure it wasn’t easy, either. Telling Grandma not to gift you that awesome neon sweater for Christmas because you really, really needed to save for your Senior Class Trip. Or your prom dress. Or a new bike.
Remember how hard it was to save? Think how much you learned about making choices and saving money, creating a “nest egg” may have come later, but you had the foundation in learning to save so that when you got to college, you understood balancing your funds, right?
Maybe you were lucky. Maybe you got it. Maybe you didn’t.
Either way. Now that you’re on your own with kids, you get it. You understand the importance of saving up and making choices. You know the value in learning, early, how to prioritize.
We made our goals with words and cash stashes. Maybe, if we were super-organized, we created savings spreadsheets on graph paper. Eh. Probably not most of us, though, right?
This time of year, everyone’s making goals. So why not teach your kids to make goals, too? How about helping your child to learn to save for something they really want?
If your child is ready to set a goal and save in 2012 help him make that spreadsheet, a goal chart, or use interactive software like Kidworth. Your child won’t learn wtihout your help, and often your guidance. And the time to start guiding? Today.
As a Kidworth Ambassador, this is a compensated post.
© 2011, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.