Children and the Value of Money

I am looking at my older daughter’s bedroom and it looks like not one but multiple bombs have exploded in it. Every surface available is covered with toys, clothing, books, etc. Since her bedroom serves as a guestroom, we need, that is, I need to tidy it up before my in laws arrive. They come often, so fortunately, I should not be finding any furry creatures during the hour it will take to clean it.

To avoid having to do this again, I thought I should introduce an allowance program. The fall season is a little slower for our family and it would give us more time “to train” our daughter to do her chores and earn an allowance.

I didn’t receive an allowance as a child, so I had to do some research for advice. I found some ideas and also came across some articles that didn’t believe allowances should be tied to chores. The thought is that chores are the responsibility of every member of the family. We don’t get paid for cleaning dishes, so why should we pay the children?

Regardless of the method we adopt, as parents we need to teach them how to save their money, make it grow and spend it wisely.

Helping them understand the difference between needs and wants (necessities versus luxuries) is very important. Do they really need another toy, why not save the money and put it towards a significant purchase like a bike. Do they need a third winter jacket, why not save the money and put it towards tuition, a trip, a car or house. Teach them to buy quality not quantity and to choose classic cuts and colours instead of trendy ones. (My Sorel boots are 15 years old and I am still wearing them, I have just replaced my ten year old Acteryx fleece with a new one, and my ski jacket is still great after five years.)

Teach them to try to buy goods on sale whenever possible. However, it doesn’t mean that because it’s on sale that they need to buy it. Do they really need another t-shirt if they already have ten in their closet?

Help them understand the total cost of an activity or outing. For example, the cost of a trip to Mexico is not only the airfare, accommodation and meals but it also includes the cost of the gas to drive to and from the Calgary Airport, the wear and tear on the vehicle, and the parking at the airport.

Helping them understand the cost of waste. For example, the chicken leftovers that were not eaten and thrown out in the garbage, explain that they were worth $2.00 which is the equivalent of two chocolate bars. The glass of milk left on the counter and poured down the drain and so on.

We need to constantly discuss these with our children and the sooner the better. My three year old understands the concept of “gaspillage” waste in English.

Children learn by listening and observing us, so we need to be on our best behaviour