Sunday, September 30, 2012


The Christmas catalogs are starting to show up in my mailbox and the wish lists are already coming from my three year old.  He flips through the pages with a slight smile on his lips until he finds exactly what he wants.  When he spots the perfect thing, he leaps up, flings the catalog on my lap saying, "THIS is what I want from Santa.  THIS ONE.  Can we call him to tell him?!  Maybe Daddy could just buy it for me now!"  Already, at three, he has picked out over $200 worth of toys that he wants for Christmas.  It hit me quickly that it was time for him to learn the value of a buck.

We have this great book by Richard Scarry called, "What Do People Do All Day?" and it talks about the cycle of money.  A farmer grows corn, sells it to a grocery store then uses the money to buy a tractor.  The grocer sells the corn and uses it to buy more inventory.  We have read this book at least 10 times and, although he understands that you have to work for money and that you need money to get what you want, he has decided that grown-ups can just take care of that for him.

I remembered my mom saying to me that her job was, "not to raise children but to raise adults." This shift in thinking tells me that I would buy him everything he wanted if I were focused only on keeping my child happy but because I am raising a member of society, I want him to grow up with a strong work ethic and an understanding of the value of money.  So we sat down and we talked about it.

We cut out all the things he wants and put them up as goals.

We listed out all his chores and decided that 25 cents per chore was a fair wage.  He helped find the clip art with me online and cut each picture out to remind himself.

We did some math together to figure out that he had 4 chores per day and so he could earn $1 a day.  At that rate, he could have the garbage truck he wanted in 30 days.  We circled that date on his calendar so that he can see how long he has left.  Then we got out a piggy bank to save his money.

It's been a week and it's been so great to see him motivate himself.  When he gives me push back, I remind him of his goal and it seems to get him right back on track.  My husband and I feel better knowing we are teaching him to work toward the things he wants in a simple and straightforward way.

How do you teach your kids about money?  Any good tips to share?

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