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Teaching Your Kids the Value of Money

By (view all posts by iwerner)
at 7:56AM Monday January 17, 2011
under Money Saving Tips

I have to say it's not easy to explain a four year old why she can't get a new toy every day in every store, or wherever we go. Sometimes I feel like I'm raising a future shopaholic.
When my daughter was younger, it was much easier to shop with her. She would be fine with whatever we got and she didn't ask for a lot, but lately she started thinking that she has to get a new toy on daily basis, or at least every time we visit a store that has at least a tiny selection of toys whether it be Target or CVS.

I don't really blame her; it's mostly my fault. She's been shopping with me since she was born and since we don't have any family in town or a babysitter, she got used to going shopping with mommy. Usually she wants to hold a credit card and pay and sign for it. She knows all the tricks. We have so mant toys at home that our friends are saying that our small place looks like a preschool.

I realized that I have to be firm and that I can't let her have whatever she wants. It's definitely not easy, but here are some tips that can hopefully help you with your daily struggles:
  • Try to get on their level and explain to them that money doesn't grow on trees and that we have to work hard to earn that money. My daughter got a Leapster Explorer for Christmas and a video game called Pet Pals. In this game you have to take your puppy for a walk and collect letters on the way. The more letters you collect and the more correct answers you have, the more coins you earn (you also have to be fast and collect those coins at the end). The coins that you earn go to your piggy bank and with that money you can go shopping and buy stuff for your puppy (like food, treats, clothes). She loves playing that game and she is so excited when she can buy cute outfits for her virtual puppy and then play dress up.

    Last time we were passing by Toys R Us, she started screaming that she wants to go in and buy a toy. I explained to her that we have to work hard to make money and that right now we don't have enough for buying toy--just like with her game where she has to work hard to get correct answers and she doesn't always have enough coins to buy whatever she wants. Magically that worked.

  • My daughter loves Target. Who doesn't? I know Target can be very tempting and sometime (or all the time) you wanna get things that you don't actually need. Now before we go, I talk to her and we set up a budget. Sometime I tell that she can only get something from a $1 bin and sometimes she can have something for $5. Now when we are in the store, she is asking me how much different stuff costs and if she can have it. When I tell her that she doesn't have enough, she is fine with that and she is happy with her $1 or $5 choice and she doesn't complain.

  • When we go to museums, she loves to go to gift shops and pick something there. I usually tell her that she can get a book and luckily she loves books and she is happy with that. That way, we don't end up with so much plastic junk and we have an awesome book collection.

  • When we have to go to a local mall to get a birthday present for someone, she always thinks that she has to get something as well. One of the malls in our area has a pet store and since my daughter is a big animal lover, sometimes all I need to make her happy is to visit the puppies. I am not a big supporter of pet stores that sell puppies in the mall, but it's hard not to stop and look at them.

I would love to hear your secrets of how you handle money issues and what works the best with your kids.