Teaching Your Child the Worth of a Dollar

Little girl wearing count money
The following is written by guest blogger, Kate Snow.

Instilling ethics and values in our children can be tough. We constantly wonder, “What are they retaining? Is anything I teach them going to stick? What kind of person will they grow to become?” One of these tough areas is money. We want them to appreciate the value of a dollar, what it takes to earn the things we have, and not to take those things for granted once we have them. We want to lead by example and impart wisdom along the way so they see that money doesn’t just fall out of the sky. Here are a few tips to show your kids what a dollar really means this holiday season.

Teach them how to shop

When you take your kids shopping with you, rather than trying to get through it as quickly as possible while keeping the kids quiet and occupied, get them involved. Show them how you shop. Teach them how to read labels, buy ingredients for a meal, make a shopping list and stay within a budget. Before you go to the store, have them choose a meal for dinner, then shop with you to pick out all the ingredients for their chosen dinner. It will make for a better shopping experience all around because they’ll feel included and accomplished when they see that they “helped” plan dinner.

Teach them about coupons and sales

Saving money is a great lesson to teach your kids. You can go through the grocery store mailer together, or point out sale items while shopping. Show them how sometimes we can plan our meals or items around which items are on sale. Teach them that not all sales are equal (save 10 cents when you buy 4? Not worth it.)

You can also teach them about coupons. One of my favorite memories as a kid was going through the coupons in the Sunday paper with my mom. She would pick out the ones she wanted and I would neatly cut them out along the dotted lines. (I know, simple pleasures.) Now, with so many online coupons available, it’s easy to save money no matter where we shop. Grocery stores, craft stores, and clothing stores like Kohl’s constantly offer deals. Have you child join you in the routine of checking for coupons before venturing out on a shopping trip.

Teach them about earning vs. receiving

Of course it’s tempting to spoil our kids and freely give them the things we know will make them happy. However, at some point, it’s important for them to learn that waiting and earning the money for an item they really want is much more gratifying, and an essential part of life. If your child wants a toy, tell them you’re going to help them save for it, or offer to match an amount that they save. Explain that you’ll pay them for certain chores or activities, how much they’ll get paid and how long it will take to save the amount they need. Create a special bank so they can see their earnings stacking up. Once they reach their goal, they’ll proudly make the purchase knowing they bought it with their own earned money.

Teach them about giving

One of the best ways to teach your kids about money is to show them what it means to give to someone else who needs it. With the holidays approaching, this is ideal time to teach the lesson of giving. Include your kids and, as a family, choose a charity to which you will donate. Set a timeline and amount goal, and work toward it as a family. Show your kids how you can take a portion of your earnings, or their allowance, and apply it toward a “giving fund.” Set up a specific jar or envelope where donation money is collected. When your goal is reached, whether you’re donating online, mailing in a check, or delivering your donation in person, include your child in the process so he or she can actually see where the money is going and how it will help someone else.

With shopping, paying bills, and budgeting, it can be easy to just go through our daily financial motions without stopping to embrace teachable moments with our kids. What are some ways you teach your child or children about the worth of a dollar?

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