5 ways to raise money-wise kids

how to teach kids about moneyby Lindsey Bell, Tell-Me-How Tuesday Contributor

A few weeks ago, my four-year-old son wanted a new pair of snorkeling goggles that cost about twenty dollars.

“Okay, Son.” I told him. “You can have the goggles after you earn the money for them.”

He decided to sell cookies and lemonade at his dad’s softball game that evening.

As my son walked away from the game with his pockets full of change (and the money earned, I might add), his face beamed with pride. He had worked hard and raised that money nearly all by himself.

I was proud of him too and reminded again that it’s never too early to start teaching kids about money.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Start early.

Even children as young as three or four can understand basic money principles: that things cost money and that we have to work to get money.

But if you haven’t started yet (and your child is now 7 or 13 or 16) don’t worry about what you’ve been unable to do in the past. Instead, focus on what you can do now.

2. Teach them to save, give, and spend wisely. From the very beginning, my husband and I have taught our kids to divide their money into three parts: giving, saving, and spending. It’s now natural to our oldest child. He doesn’t even question us about dividing it.

To do this, you could use a three-part bank, three envelopes or jars, or various online programs. The program we love is www.myjobchart.com. It’s free and allows our children to log in, check off the chores they have completed, earn rewards, and even give, save, or spend directly from the online program (all with adult assistance, of course).

3. Let them make some mistakes.

If your child wants to spend all of his hard-earned money on a toy that you know will break in five minutes, let him (at least occasionally). It’ll be a good learning experience for him.

4. Pay them for some of their chores.

There’s a lot of conflicting advice on whether or not you should pay kids for chores. Some say you shouldn’t because then they will never do anything without getting paid. Others claim you should because that’s how the world works. You don’t get paid unless you do the work. Our family does both. Some chores are unpaid and mandatory, because-you’re-part-of-the-family chores. Others are commission-based.

5. Set a good example.

By far, the greatest thing you can do to help your kids learn about money is to set a good example in your own finances. Your kids will never learn to manage their money wisely if they don’t see it modeled for them at home. If you need help with this, I have a free eBook called Financial Freedom on a Fixed Income that I give to all of my newsletter subscribers. You can sign up for that at my website: www.lindseymbell.com.

Let’s talk: What other ways do you teach your kids about money?

About Lindsey Bell:

LindseyBell2Lindsey Bell is the author of Searching for Sanity, a parenting devotional to be released in January 2014. She’s also a stay-at-home mother of two, minister’s wife, avid reader, and chocolate lover. You can find Lindsey online at any of the following locations:

Her blog: www.lindsey-bell.com

Her website: www.lindseymbell.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/LindseyMBell

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorLindseyBell

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/LindseyMBell01

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  • This is a real work in progress at our house. I have been pleasantly surprised at how willing they are to put their own change into the collection basket at church.

  • These are some great tips! I have thought about teaching my son how to save money and deciding at what point I should start. He’s only 2 now, so I know I still have some time, but do you have any recommendations?

    Thanks for linking up on the My Favorite Posts SHOW OFF Weekend Blog Party! 🙂

  • Stopping by from SITS! Thanks so much for this. We are going through a family money makeover right now. We homeschool our oldest and I am thinking about getting Dave Ramsey’s children’s curriculum.

  • That’s amazing! I started with my daughter about money and credit and credit cards when she was about 10. She hasn’t had a job yet, I’m a focus on school parent, but she does get paid for some chores. My rule has been if she’s cleaning up after others she got paid, but not to clean her room or bathroom or doing her own laundry. That is responsibility.

    • I like that way of doing it, Melissa. If it’s your mess, you clean it up. If you’re helping others, you get paid. Thanks for sharing.

  • I love the idea of splitting money up in three ways for my kids. It makes so much sense! And my kids have multiple piggy banks, so it’ll be easy. Thanks for this tip!

  • This is so smart! I really realize how little my daughter knows about money because she will hear of a toy or book and say, Let’s go buy that right now!” Without any idea of how much it might cost and how little we have. Special occasion or not, it’s not too early to teach her about value.

    • My son does the same thing. Sometimes I’ll ask him if he has enough money, and he’ll say, “You do. We can just use your money.” We’re still working obviously, lol 🙂

  • I love these suggestions. I also use myjobchart.com. I think it’s a remarkable system. I love the fact that it’s free! Plus the kids can earn their own money.

  • Awesome ideas! I bookmarked this post for future reference.

    I told my kids that when they are old enough to get their first job, it will be a manual labor type job because I want them to learn the value of hard work and realize that nothing is beneath them. If they get a cushy job from the get-go and then lose said type of job, then will they be willing and able to humble themselves to do manual labor if there is nothing else available? Maybe, maybe not, but I think a manual labor job is a great place to start and teaches some great life lessons. 🙂

    Our kids have chores that they do and we don’t pay them, BUT they do earn rewards of their choosing (no money types weekly and low cost types every 5 weeks and possible a bigger one after several months, but that idea hasn’t been solidified yet.). I think it teaches them the same lesson; work for what you want. I will keep in mind as they get older, though, the thought of having them do extra things for cash. I think it’s brilliant! 🙂

    • There’s a lot of value in learning to work hard. I like your idea of starting kids out with manual labor jobs. I would imagine it would really help them learn to work hard. Great suggestion!

  • These are great tips! My youngest son is always the one who volunteers if I offer money for jobs that I need done around the house! He’s also my Ebay entrepreneur! Anything we want to sell he gets a cut of! 🙂 My daughter babysits and referees and my oldest son works now. They do spend their own money a lot of the time and for the most part they are pretty responsible with it.

    • {Melinda} It’s always such a pleasure to have you, Lindsey! Thanks for all the great and valuable information you give!

  • Lindsey thanks for the post, before I was a mom I wanted to do this whole chore chart and have him earn weekly allowance, then as a mom I realized he wouldn’t do anything without getting paid.

    I make chores mandatory…but now after reading your post, I like the idea of getting paid for some chores. He loves to clean, heck he loves to tidy up and help me do anything cleaning based… I now have to think of some chores that are harder and he could get paid to do…perhaps reorganizing the utensil drawer (no sharp knives in there) cleaning the kitchen floor.

    I also got myself in a tricky spot…sort of bribing him,…well full bribing him to sleep late…now I buy him a toy every ten days…but he also gets rid of a toy as a new one comes in.. What was I thinking though?

    • That’s wonderful that your son likes to clean, Karen! It sounds to me like you’re doing something right!! I fall into the trap of bribing my son too. It’s tempting b/c it works, ya know? 🙂 Thanks so much for commenting, Karen.


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i’m melinda


I’m a woman who was radically changed when the God I thought I knew since childhood opened my eyes to the overwhelming depth of His love for me. I love speaking, writing, and pointing women to the Father so they can experience for themselves the healing power of His incredible, captivating love.

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