Serve Magazine from Concordia Plan Services Winter 2017 - Page 12
Teaching Your Kids About the ‘M’ Word
BY Christina Knott
s a parent, you have many awkward conversations with
your children. One may be talking to them about the
“M” word: money. How to spend and save money is
something that many adults struggle with, which can make it
uncomfortable or difficult to teach children about the subject.
But while the conversation isn’t easy, it’s really important.
Many of us look back and wish we’d learned more about
financial wellness when we were younger. So how can we
teach our children about the proper way to spend and save
money and establish good financial habits now that can help
them through the rest of their lives?
Start With the Three Basics: Saving, Spending
Most of our financial transactions fit into these three cate-
gories. Several financial experts suggest using three clear
jars as a visual way to help kids understand the concepts of
saving, spending and giving. While there are many deco-
rative and fun variations of the traditional piggy bank, they
don’t let kids actually see the bills and coins adding up.
Explain to your child about choosing where their money
goes and how each jar is important and has its own purpose.
Here are some jar tips:
• Try giving money in small bills. If a child receives a $5 bill,
she is more tempted to put the entire bill in one jar (usually
the spending jar). But if you give her five $1 bills, she can
easily put money in each of the jars (for example, three in
spending, one in saving and one in giving).
• Ask family and friends who give money as Christmas or
birthday gifts to try to give cash instead of checks. The idea
of cash is easier for kids to understand and is a more visual
representation of money. Gift cards are nice, but having
cash lets your child spend the money wherever he wants
and he’ll be able to get change back if there’s some left
over from his purchase ($1.45 on a gift card usually goes
• Let them make their own choices about where to put the
money. It’ll be hard for you — especially if their spend jar
is full and the other two jars are mostly empty — but you’ll
just have to be patient for the light bulb to go on and for
them to realize how they’re prioritizing their money.
Money for the jars can come from jobs they do around the
house, an agreed-upon reward system (an A or a B on a test
equals $1) or gifts. You don’t have to pay your kids for every
chore they do, but you can use it as a reward for extra jobs or
help they provide.
Teach Them About Spending Wisely
Chances are, your kids are already watching your spending
habits, so use those moments to explain how you make your
spending decisions. Openly tell them about how you’re
using coupons to save, buying the bigger box of cereal
because you’re paying less per Cheerio,
or picking up a generic versus a name-
brand item. These are all lessons that
help your child learn to spend wisely in
You can also help them use these tactics
when they make a purchase themselves.
You can encourage your daughter to
watch for the “doll of her dreams” to
go on sale before buying it. If your son
really wants a bike, maybe a resale
shop would have a gently used one for
a fraction of the price. If your teenager
“has” to have name-brand jeans, offer to
contribute the cost of a basic pair and
have him or her pay the difference.