Involve Your Kids in the Family Budget
Kids and budgeting. Budgeting and kids. The two really should go hand in hand. So why don't more of us involve kids in the family budget? Why have so many of us grown up without having been taught how to create, and live by, a budget?
Whatever the reason(s), there is good news! We can easily fix this in our families. We can change our children's futures for the better by teaching them this essential skill! It is truly a lot of fun to involve kids in the family budget! Wanna know where to start? Let's look at some simple things we can do:
- Pay your child(ren). Different families have different opinions on how to do this. Some prefer to have the allowance be just that, an allowance that is given without conditions. Others like the idea of paying kids after they've done something (chores, usually) to earn that money. I say pick what works best for your family! I've done it both ways, and I personally prefer to allow my kids the opportunity to earn their payment each week. I like using a chart with a few items on it that I would like each child to do. When a chore is completed, they are able to check it off for the day, and at the end of the week, we have payday, during which we look at all that was completed and pay out accordingly.
- Include kids in things like shopping and vacation planning. I never go shopping without a budget, and if my kids are with me, I let them know what that budget is. For example, we went shopping for Halloween costumes earlier this week, and I let the kids know at the very beginning how much we could spend. I made it clear that the money I had in the purse had to be enough for ALL of us to get costumes. When my daughter was trying to decide between two costumes that she liked, she was able to look at the price tags and make the decision. My son, on the other hand, had a really hard time accepting that he could only pick one. Which leads me to the next point...
- Allow your kids to spend their own money (and sometimes that means making their own mistakes). My son has some money saved up. He currently is trying to save for Disneyland (what can I say, he dreams big!). When he got upset while trying to pick just one costume, I gave him the option to spend his OWN money on the 2nd costume. I reminded him that he is currently saving for and he chose to spend some of that money. He later felt a little bummed out that he now had less money in his Disneyland fund, but then he put on his costume and wore it all day and decided it was worth the $8 he spent! I have also found that kids are automatically more cautious with their spending when it's their own hard-earned moolah!
- Include your kids with grocery shopping, too! My children and I have had many discussions about the importance of healthy eating, and they know as well as I do that organic foods cost more. I allow them to make decisions with me at times as to what food brands, flavors, etc to purchase. They seem much more willing to eat meals and food that they helped to plan out and purchase! One fun idea: let your kids be in charge of planning the meals for the week. Give them a budget and let them go shopping with the cash you've given them. Then have some fun with them as you all eat the meals and snacks they've planned!
- Create visuals. If you have a child saving up for a fairly big-ticket item, something that may take a while to save up for, give them a visual to see that they are getting closer. Perhaps it's a coloring page of that item and each time they put another dollar into savings, they are able to color a little more. Maybe it's a simple bar graph with preset dollar amounts drawn in that they can fill up as they save. Maybe it's filling a jar with coins. It's so fun to see progress being made, for kids and adults, and it will help with motivation.
- Don't be afraid to be honest. Of course we don't want our kids to be sick with worry if Mom and Dad don't know how the mortgage will be paid this month, but it's okay to let our kids know about our own financial mistakes, and the plans we have. My kids know that we are ALL working together to pay off the rest of my medical bills. They know that we need to be careful with the money we have. They also know that they will be fed. They know that they will always have a place to rest their heads at night. We give them the assurances they need to feel safe and comforted, and we also keep them informed on the financial progress we are making. You will know how much to share with your own kids depending on their age levels and maturity.
How do you involve kids in the family budget? I'd love to hear your ideas!