Teaching your kids about money can be daunting; use these fun and creative ideas to help.
Having a kid is the easy part. Teaching them and raising them right — well, that is no child’s play. As a parent, you do everything you can to ensure your child is able to fulfil his or her highest potential. And hopefully, they also grow up to value good money habits. It’s never too early to be teaching kids about money and instil the importance of saving.
When it comes to money matters, getting the attention of a child who may or may not yet grasp the concept of money is a challenge. But we suspect that if you inject a bit of fun and creativity into it, inculcating good early money habits when they're still young could be a win-win.
Instead of piggy banks, have some fun with your kids by encouraging them to collect glass jars of all shapes and sizes (this will also teach them the virtue of recycling).
Have each of them pick three jars from the collection, and label each one as “Save”, “Spend” and “Share”. Make an arty afternoon of it by letting your kids decorate the jars.
To up the incentive, ask them to stick a photo of a toy or something they need on their respective “spend” jar. That way, when the jar is full, they will have earned themselves a treat.
Help your children understand the significance of their money jars by laying down the rules or any instructions you may have on saving and spending. For example, the “share” jar is for money that can go towards helping others, such as a charity of their choosing. This trains them to think about the less fortunate and cultivate a generous, compassionate spirit.
The jaded adult may take for granted simple, daily errands which could actually become very important life lessons. An example is going to the supermarket.
Every now and again, consider making an excursion of a supermarket trip. Appoint your kid as the “money manager” for the day, get her involved in selecting the best-value items on your shopping list and teach her to make comparisons and decisions.
Give her a budget to work with and when it's time to pay, encourage her to do the counting and checking of change received. At the end of the day, your little “money manager” can come up with a few ideas of her own on how to save more on the next grocery-shopping trip.
Lesson No 1: Money does not grow on trees. A great way to teach your kids to earn their keep and work for the life they desire is to come up with a small business idea together — think of something they can easily make and sell: cookies, lemonades, bracelets and art pieces — the choice is theirs.
This can also double up as a good exercise in discovering a passion or talent.
Stars for rewards
Everyone likes a pat on the back for a job well done especially children, if they’ve worked hard on a task or project.
Setting up a reward system at home could be a fun way to get your kids to help with the housework while they learn a thing or two about earning (and saving) money. There are two ways to go about this.
In a more straightforward approach, assign a token amount of money for each task: S$2 for doing the dishes and S$6 for washing the car, for example.
Another way is do it with stickers. Create a rewards chart like a calendar — use paint, crayons, glitter, anything that’s colourful, fun and catches their fancy. Every task performed well earns them a star — or two.
Organise a family meeting at the end of each month where you’ll be counting stars and giving out treats or gifts.
There’s nothing like learning through games. You’re engaged, you’re having fun and you’re bonding as a family — all while learning something, about money and about one another.
Make a fortnightly date with your kids to play board games ("Monopoly", "Money Junior" and "The Game of Life" are all good options) and let your kids pay their fines, make their mistakes and learn to be wiser on their next move.
Your children will pick up valuable lessons they could apply in real life, too. With games and with family, it’s a safe place to fail and learn.
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By Alexa Fang
Alexa is a pop-culture vulture. She lives to read, write and travel, and decided long ago that life is stranger than fiction. When she's having croissant, she thinks in French. "31 Rue Cambon" is her favourite address, and she believes that money one enjoyed spending is never money wasted.