Archive for the ‘kids and money’ category

Let kids feel the impact of their decisions at the mall

June 4, 2012
Tweens and teens love to go to the mall and hang out. A mall is an ideal hangout place for tweens and teens- mingle, mix, shop, eat, laugh, see and be seen. Tweens and teens live for the mall. Allow them that freedom and to learn to spend and shop within limits and their budget. Tweens and teens can learn the natural and logical consequences of their spending decisions.

Tweens and teens love to go to the mall independently. It’s a fairly safe venue to practice independence, spend wisely and have fun with their friends.

“Owen called from the mall and said, ‘Dad, would you bring me money?'” said a friend at a party, when parents kibbitz about our favorite subject — kids.”I had dropped him off at a friend’s house and didn’t know he was going to the mall. Now he wanted one of us to drive 20 miles each way to deliver the money. I said, ‘Hit your friends up for a loan.'”

Hurray to Dad for setting a boundary and encouraging his only child, age 13, to solve his problem and learn better planning. With an only child, it’s easy to fall into the trap of indulgence because you have the time and money, and want to avoid guilt, the parental poison.

It’s okay to say “No” and allow him to learn from poor planning. It falls under “natural consequences,” also known as “giving him enough rope to burn but not enough to hang.”

The little “burns” of an empty pocket and asking for a loan, teach tweens and teens to take responsibility and better manage their affairs.

Avoid undermining the lesson by saying, “I told you so.” Asking questions or I-messages will preserve the relationship. “I was surprised you were going to the mall. Did you know that was the plan?” Or, “My Dad taught me to always leave home with money in my pocket, just in case.”

Teens can revel in the the freedom of independence and the responsibility that goes with those first mall expeditions. It’s an excellent opportunity to make spending decisions, and find out which friends can be counted on to share their resources.

A true “natural consequence” means that parents do not have to interfere with one of the most powerful teaching tools. If needed, encourage kids by saying, “I bet you can solve that problem,” or  “Do you have any ideas?” or “Ask someone for a few bucks.”

You can do it. So can your kids.

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Make allowances pay

October 17, 2011
Managing money for family vacations is critical for kids and money. An allowance for children and tweens can be used to teach them how to budget and save, and to NOT spend more than they have. It's OK to say no. Money and children is a complex topic that can be simplified through allowances. Children and money often comes up in the media. Let kids experience not having money or having to delay gratification. De-emphasize buying THINGs. Can you live without things? Go to yard sales to teach kids how to spend money wisely.

These kids on vacation carry their own backpacks -- hopefully with lunch inside. An upcoming vacation or holiday are excellent opportunities to teach kids how to save money.

While watching the Patriots yesterday, I took note of commercials because I rarely watch TV. “Aunt Sue, how do you know what to buy unless you watch TV?” my nephew asked dryly.

I don’t need to buy much. I might want to buy more than I need. Managing my emotions around my wants has been critical to money peace.

Spending less than you earn is a valuable life lesson that parents can teach kids from age five on.

Five year olds can learn to manage small amounts of money through a weekly allowance not tied to chores. Give her 50 cents and allow her to lose it, give it away, save it or spend it on whatever she wants. Introduce the idea of saving for a special occasion, such as an excursion, day trip or holiday.
When she gets in first grade, increase the allowance so she can choose whether to buy lunch a few days a week or make a brown bag lunch and save money. Put “allowance” on the family meeting agenda. Kids as young as 3 years old can participate in a 10 minute family meeting that includes compliments, new business, a snack and family fun. See my tip sheet on family meetings.
Talk about how they can budget their allowance, plan, donate and save for special occasions. Don’t do it for them. Allow them to experience spending all of their money and your kind firm refusal to be a money machine. Unless you want to undermine their money management by showing them that you’ll always bail them out of financial problems, and they should be able to buy everything they want.
Award allowances without tying them to chores because they contribute to the family welfare, they also share in the benefits. If you bribe them , you’re teaching them to manipulate people with money, and to work for money.
According to research, money is the LOWEST form of motivation. Have you ever worked only for the money or had an employee only in it for the money? Both are bankrupt.
It takes time to learn to manage money and develop internal motivation to contribute to a family and society. Allowances teach children to manage small amounts of money with guidance, and to patronize yard sales.
By the time children are old enough to “want” things, they are old enough to earn money outside of the family by pet care, yard work, mother’s helper, lemonade stands and more creative ideas. I discourage the practice of paying kids to do special chores to earn money for special purchases.
Do not feel sorry for them! They can work outside of the family for what they want. Delayed gratification encourages the priceless lesson of self-discipline and avoids addiction to “stuff.”
My husband bought his third new car ever on Friday. The first new car was in 1981, the second — a work truck — was bought in 2005. Bob drove used cars while we paid for food and housing, shoes, braces, school trips, fun things, teen beater cars, and college education for our four children.
At the end of the day, it’s nice to have a new car that we could have lived without. One of the things I appreciate about him the most is his healthy and generous relationship to money. You can nurture this in your children by your example, encouraging them to live within their means, and setting kind and firm limits.

Make friends with money from the start

October 10, 2011
Children doing chores is an important part of growing up. Children should NOT be paid for doing chores unless they pay parents for doing chores. Children can learn to manage money by being given an allowance and learning how it feels to run out of money. Children, tweens and teens can learn to budget money, plan for special occasions and trips, and spend money carefully. They can learn by having an allowance, but not tied to chores
My daughter Kristen, then about age 6, is painting the basement playroom. Kristen did not get cash for doing this. Her rewards were much more valuable: being connected to our family (the BEST substance abuse prevention) teamwork, learning a work ethic, developing a skill, nurturing self-esteem, self-discipline and competence. Today, Kristen is earning a Masters in Fine Arts in sculpture.

Money. Can’t live without it. Seems like there’s never enough. Many a marriage has failed over money. The challenge is how to teach children the golden rule: spend less than you earn.

You can convey this to children so they grow up to have successful relationships with money, and their life partners.

DO NOT pay children to contribute around the house, also known as chores. Do not pay children to work for money at home unless you want to:

1. Guarantee that you will always have to pay them to do that task, earn that grade, or practice that instrument;

2. Teach them that money can be used to manipulate others; or

3. Teach them that work ought only be done for money. Research shows that money is the LOWEST motivation to do anything.

Parents must be creative, have a plan and work together to make teamwork fun to motivate kids without money, fear or punishment.

This takes time. Pay, praise and reward and punishment are quick and dirty. Creating an environment where contributions are encouraged and appreciated takes time and patience — like most aspects of good parenting.

Start with a family meeting.  This is where to reinforce positive parenting and mold your child into the adult you envision. Or at least to manage their behavior to live peacefully until they leave home 🙂

Make a list of everything parents do around the house. Ask every child, tween and teen to make a list of what s/he does. Self-chores do not count, such as, “make my bed, clear my dish, put my toys away.” We’re looking for contributions for the common good: emptying the wastebaskets, setting the table, making the salad or dessert for dinner, mowing the lawn, painting a room. Notice how those chores increased in complexity, as they do as a child gets older.

Ask them what responsibilities they’d like to take on. Write them down. Expect them to do the job in the coming week, month and year. Encourage and appreciate their efforts. Hold them to their agreements by being kind, firm and consistent. This is how they develop the precious gift of self-discipline — doing something we don’t feel like doing at that moment.

Do not pay them by the chore. Do not withhold allowance if they don’t do them. DO give them an allowance that is NOT tied to money. They contribute to the common good, they enjoy the rewards of being in a family. Don’t you have bad days/weeks at work where your performance was lacking?

Here’s a true story about how to handle requests for payment of chores.

Me: (Fixing dinner.) Noah, it’s time to empty the dishwasher. (Notice I didn’t ask him. He agreed to do to the job at a family meeting.)

Noah (age 8): Mom, will you pay me for emptying the dishwasher?

Me: (Pause. Thinking quickly.) Sure, Noah. I’ll pay you $3 for emptying the dishwasher.

Noah: (eyes light up.)

Me: But dinner is $5.

Next post: How to use allowances to teach children how to manage their money.