Money Matters: Teaching Children about the Value of Money

Since they were little, we have encouraged the boys to keep a little piggy bank. Unfortunately, they aren’t that consistent with it. Lately, however, I have felt a need to place more emphasis on the piggy bank, saving money and working for it because Aristotle has been displaying some rather disturbing behaviours…

When he doesn’t like something, he says, “Throw it away.”

When I caution him about breaking his toys, he says, “We can get a new one.”

He has been wasteful and very cavalier about it. If my mother had heard me say some of the things he has said, she would have skinned me alive. He also used to be very good about not buying stuff from the shops. I used to feel so proud when he could put toys and books back and walk out of the shop without fussing. I’ve noticed this changing as well. So I felt it was time to do something about it.

I wanted to teach him about the value of money so he might appreciate his belongings more so I’ve put him to work. For all the things he hates doing that I want him to do without fussing, I offer him money for it. For example, “If you do “xyz”, I’ll pay you 50 sen.”

I’ve also told him that I refuse to buy anything for him that I feel he doesn’t need. If he wants to buy it, he has to save up enough money to buy it. He can buy whatever he wants with the money he earns and I won’t stop him, but he has to earn it. If I feel it is something useful or that it is something that he needs, I make an exception and get it for him.

To help motivate him, I took him to the shops and let him handle the toys he wanted to buy that I had refused to buy for him. Yes, evil Mummy, but I had to do something to get him to realise what he was working towards since he has never had to pay for anything himself. I needed him to see the price tag and have an idea of how much toys and books cost.

The side effect of this whole exercise is that it also teaches him Math and how to count money – not a bad thing, either.

In the end, he learns valuable life lessons – that money has to be earned and that you sometimes have to do things you don’t like to earn it; how to save money; the value of things so he learns to appreciate what he has – and he learns about the practicalities of Math which can seem abstract and useless otherwise. Win, win, win.

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

8 thoughts on “Money Matters: Teaching Children about the Value of Money

  1. The price tag thing really helps with Math! If he is allowed to buy something, I’ll tell them it has to be under $10 and he has to figure out if something is under $10 or not.

    Thanks for the evil Mommy trick! 😉 I’ll try it too.

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  2. When my kids ask me to buy things, I’ll tell them if they want it to figure out how to come up with the money to get it. If they want it, their minds will get creative and start to see opportunities around them. That is priceless and will take them far in life. I talk with them about money all the time, always in terms of how can we affford this, if it’s something we really want and need.

    Cheers.

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  3. I tried 5 minute suggestion by visualizing each and every thing which i wanted to change in Nithin’s behavior and kept silent during the day when he was doing what i did not want him to do… I see a vast difference in his attitude now and feeling good now… Have you tried for every thing with Gavin?

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    1. Sathya – I do need to be more consistent with 5 minute suggestion. It really does help when we do it. I haven’t used it for this, though.

      I also agree with you – we have a tendency to want to correct misbehaviour and inadvertently give it attention (even if it is negative attention) and forget to give attention to good behaviour. It’s hard to stay silent, but I will try again.

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  4. Oops, I mean http://www.moneychampkids.com I have used the method & principles with my 3.5 year old. In addition to his gradual appreciation of value of money (knowing he can’t buy something if he doesn’t have enough money), the method has also encouraged his positive behaviour. For eg, he resisted brushing teeth previously, but now he would brush his teeth independently twice daily after 2 months, without reminders!

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    1. Thanks HK. Looks interesting. Mind to tell me if you have had experience with Cashflow for kids – the Robert Kiyosaki game? If you have how would you compare it to moneychamp?

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