This article, originally titled This is the Best, Smallest Action You Can Take to Get Your Kid to Care about Money , appears here courtesy of our content partner MoneyProdigy.com.
I’ve got a goal-setting exercise for you to do with your kid(os).
You might be thinking, wait, what? What does goal setting for kids have to do with getting my child to care about money, or maybe even value it?
A whole lot.
At some point in your own money journey, you figured out that most things in life take money. And not just most things. The things that YOU wanted in life were going to cost money.
Money that someone else wasn’t going to pay for you or that you didn’t want someone else to be responsible for because you wanted to do it on your own.
It could’ve been a trip you wanted to take. Or a bicycle you had to have. Or a video game. Or any number of things.
For me? It was to study abroad in Spain for a summer in high school. I wanted it desperately. I could taste the Tortilla Espanola, and—as an overworked farm girl—could barely imagine the luxury of taking a siesta each day.
I lived it. I breathed it. I dreamt about it.
And I earned money for it.
Not just once or twice, forgetting about it after realizing the amount of work it was going to take. But for three years.
Money Sources I Found:
- Yours truly was the Chester County Dairy Princess in Pennsylvania, where I grew up. After realizing I could earn $1,200 in incentives for completing a slew of promotions, I got to work. And I MET that goal.
- Applied for, and won, a travel scholarship for $1,000 at my high school.
- Mucked horse stalls, every day, after school on someone else’s horse farm for a job. Paid me up to $98/week at its height (meaning after I got a few raises).
And you know what? I got there. No only did I spend six weeks abroad in Spain at the age of 16, but I learned an uncountable amount of money lessons + life lessons in the process.
You’ve got to dig down deep into your child’s motivations, then tie it to money.
What Does Your Kiddo Want To Do/Be/Have?
Perhaps you’ve never actually asked this to question your kiddo.
I mean, you’re not alone in that. You’re going about your day, you’ve got a bazillion things + one to get done, and you’re keeping things together.
By the way, you’re doing great, Mama Bear.
But let me show you the one small, best action you can take right now to get your child to actually care about not only learning money, but also valuing it.
Tonight over dinner, tomorrow in the car ride to school, or in the evening when the television is normally on, use this money conversation starter to open up the conversation:
Mama Bear: Hey [Kiddo’s first Name]! Have you ever had something that you wanted to do? To Be? To Have? I mean, outside of what we provide for you. Something that you can work on getting yourself?
Kiddo: Kiddo either answers with something that’s been immediately on their mind, or, more likely, blankly stares back at you for a few awkward seconds.
Mama Bear: Prod them on a bit with questions like, “it could be a new toy that you’ve been wanting, or something that you want to take a class for outside of school, or new equipment to play with, or [XXX].” Be careful here with your suggestions, as it’s not likely your child is ready to flex their delayed gratification muscles while goal setting for kids and dive into a longer-term savings goal. It’s best to start with something they can reach within a few weeks or months.
Kiddo: Kiddo gives you an idea. Latch onto it.
Mama Bear: “Great! Now, do you know how you would actually be able to do/be/have the specific thing that you want? Besides asking your parent(s) for it?”
Kiddo: Kiddo either does or does not know that money is how things are purchased, and that saving up money is how you buy more expensive items.
Mama Bear: “It’s by saving your money for it. I’m so excited that you have a goal for something that you want to do/be/have, that I’m going to help talk you through how to save money and reach that goal. How does that sound?”
Why Goal Setting For Kids Makes Them Care About Money
Every other part of money ties back to your goals in life. And it’s the same with a child.
If you want to teach your child about saving money, then you tie it back to their goal. And if some (irritating) situations arise where your child needs a little learning? You can tie it back to their goal. Let me give you some examples:
- Wasting Money on Toys that Will Break Easily: If you want to teach a child to not waste their allowance on another toy they’ll just stop playing with next week, then you tie it back to how it’ll take longer for them to be able to purchase their goal.
- Finding Money Crumpled Up in the Corner of their Room: This is money you can tell them can go into their piggy bank or savings account towards their goal, and is wasting away when it’s on the ground.
- Sticking to a Savings Goal for More than a Week: Once they get the sweet taste of victory – by actually saving up for a small goal that they reach – their confidence will be boosted to the point where they’ll feel like they can save money beyond a week because it’ll be WORTH it.
It works for any age, so is completely age-appropriate (ever try to navigate what’s considered “age appropriate” with money? We’re bypassing that for now, because every child has a goal. Whether it’s to buy a new Cabbage Patch Doll, or to get to college).
Where To Go From Here With Your Kid(dos) Money Education
So, your kid now has a savings goal. Amazing! That’s the best, smallest action step you could take in helping them to start to understand the world of money.
Literally, any money conversation you have with them stemming from whatever questions they throw your way, you can tie back to this one goal.
I’ve got a few resources for you to continue the conversations, and give you a little guidance with things:
- Get Clear on What You Want: Instead of getting bogged down with how to teach kids about money, answer these questions and come up with a Money Mission Statement for your child of WHAT you want to teach them about money. It’s the first step!
- Make Learning about Money Fun: Come on over and grab your FREE Dessert Breakout Box printable that will have kids not only begging to sit down to dinner tonight, but also working through a few money puzzles to up their knowledge about how to save money.
- Keep the Conversation Going: If nothing else, then print out these 50 money conversation starters for kids and have some FUN around answering some silly + interesting money “what if’s.”
Remember, as money conversations and questions start to trickle out of your kiddo’s mouth—now that you’ve opened their eyes to the role money plays in life—you can always tie it back to their current goal they’re saving for.
Makes the whole process less intimidating, right?
image credit: Bigstock/LightField Studios
The views and opinions expressed are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of MindShift.money.
Hey, I’m Amanda L. Grossman! I teach kids aged 8-13 how to save money through educational money adventures, like the Mt. Everest Money Simulation. You can find me over at Money Prodigy.