With 2016 quickly coming to a close, and 2017 about to start, it’s time to think about resolutions and goals for the year ahead. Why not get the whole family involved and make one of those goals to save more money as a family?
To do this, we first have to teach kids that saving money is important. But, that seemingly simple task can be really challenging. It is especially difficult because young children in particular have no idea that things actually cost actual money. If your kids are anything like mine, they assume we stand in the checkout line at Target just to show off what we are getting so the nice employee can make a list of our stuff and then tuck that list carefully into our bursting bags.
“Money? What money?,” they must think—seeing absolutely no difference between my RedCard and the pretend Fisher-Price credit cards in their Minnie Mouse purses. This is when I step up on my imaginary soapbox and begin ranting to my oblivious toddler and preschooler.
“Mama just spent $17 of her hard-earned money on dollar bin garbage, the least you can do is appreciate the sacrifices I am making. Newsflash: It all cost money, kids, and mommy and daddy have to work very hard for that money,” I want to scream.
Clearly, I need help in explaining money and its value to my 2- and 5-year-old little girls.
So, how does one make the issue of a) understanding money and b) saving it a family affair? Turning to the experts for help, I found some really neat tips on how to teach kids about money, and how to budget and save it.
Keep reading, as I think these tips provide a great launch point for any family wanting to start saving together.
1. Practice what you preach.
You know the old “Monkey see, monkey do” saying? If kids see you saving money, they will want to save, too. Instead of reaching for more dollar bin flair, tell your kids you are going to pass this time, and put those dollars in the bank instead.
Make sure you show them simple ways to save. I keep a piggy bank in almost every room in my house. Whenever I find loose change, the money goes into one of the banks rather than into my wallet. Because of this, my kids have gotten in the habit too. By the end of the year we have a nice little amount to spend on a fun outing for the family.
2. Create a jar system.
It doesn’t have to be actual jars—although I do see value in letting kids see their money pile up—but you could use envelopes too. The point is to create separate containers to represent the different areas that kids can allocate their money: save, spend, give and invest (when the child is old enough).
In doing this, you are teaching your children to budget. Help your kids determine what they want to spend now, what they really want to save for, and who they might be able to help by giving. This kind of jar system can set them up well for future budgeting systems as adults.
3. Use a saving chart.
Create a saving chart for each member of your family, or use one of these awesome charts from the family finance blog, Penny Pinchin’ Mom that outline how much needs to be saved each week to hit savings goals. Hang the charts in an accessible place to keep everyone accountable, and cross off weekly goals as you hit them. By the end of the year, you will have stuck to your savings guns and saved a significant sum as a family.
4. Match your child’s contributions.
A lot of corporations have a 401K match program. Why not give kids this same bonus for saving? As your kid saves money, match them penny for penny or dollar for dollar. They’ll watch their money grow and love getting that extra boost from you.
5. Talk to your kids about money.
The only way to truly keep kids involved in a family savings plan is to talk to them about money. Keep them in the loop, especially if you are making any sacrifices as a family—like cutting the cable cord—that may lead to financial gains. In doing so, they will understand it takes teamwork and effort to get ahead.
Do you have plans to prioritize saving as a family in the new year?