As a family, we follow a budget and we cannot buy anything if there is no money in the budget. It’s applicable to the kids as well. Jeev and Meera are 3 and 1 year old. So, obviously, Jeev is the only recipient of teaching about money and hard work. Although initially, we didn’t talk about money as it is, the discussions around budgeting happened over a year ago (when he was 2.5 years old). When we would go to the store, if he asked for an expensive toy or unnecessary things, we would try to distract him. If he still insisted, our answer would be “we don’t have it in the budget”. Trust me, he didn’t want to hear that answer. Initial few months were difficult as kids don’t like to hear a NO. He’d throw tantrum in the store itself. But over time, it got better. Even now, if he asks for unnecessary things, we try to distract him first before the talking about money as most of the time kids would forget if distracted and constant talk about money is probably not a good idea.
Below are the things we do currently to teach him about money and hard work:
- We ask each other about our day at the end of each day. Sweet and Sour is what we call it. Sweet is for something good happened that day and Sour is for something not-so-good. Getting things done on time, completing a work are all discussed under Sweet. So indirectly he is getting the message that completing a work is a good thing.
- When reading books, we always finish the book before we move on to the next one. No matter whether we like it or not, we want to finish one activity before moving on to the next one. Same goes for toys. We don’t take all the toys out at a time. We take one set of toys and play with them. Once we are done playing, they go back to the toy basket and we move on to the next set or do some other activities.
- Putting things in place: No matter whether it’s a toy or things at home, we should put them back in their places. As soon as Jeev changes his clothes (with our help), the dirty clothes should go to the 3rd laundry basket (Jeev’s basket). We use this laundry sorter and each basket is assigned to each person. One time, as soon as we entered the house I had to rush to put Meera to sleep. When I came back, Jeev said “Mommy, can you put your coat back? This doesn’t belong here”. Lol! I realized I left my winter coat on a chair instead of putting it in its place.
- We don’t buy toys every time we take the kids to store (grocery store for example). Jeev knows that and after a year of discussing about money, if we say no, now he’d say “we’ll buy later”. We wouldn’t give false promises though. Our response would be “we’ll think about it and come back”.
- This doesn’t mean we don’t buy any toys for him. This practice is to avoid impulse purchases. We don’t want to buy something just because we are in the store. If we noticed that he is very interested in that item, we look for deals and buy it. We don’t follow this practice 100% either. Sometimes, we do buy him the toy right away in the store if we think it’s worth the excitement and money.
- Delaying purchases is a good learning for both adults and kids. Especially, kids want everything right away. Waiting is a hard practice. Through this way, they’re learning delayed gratification. One time, we stopped to have dinner on the way from an event. Cheetos is one of his favorite snacks. He saw cheetos in the store only after finishing his meal. He was very tired and was ready to sleep right after he’d go back to the car seat. So when he asked, we said “you just had a meal. Can we get it next time?”. I was expecting a tantrum and surprisingly he said ok. We made sure he got Cheetos when we went to Subway the next time.
- Husband and I talk about budgeting and not wasting things in front of kids. Even spilling something is considered a waste. Now, even if I waste food unconsciously, he would tell me to not to waste it. Thanks, my boy!
- We also teach them to take care of things. It can be his toys or even things at home. We emphasize on taking care of things at home
- Now that Jeev is going to be 4 years old, we encourage him to dress up, wear shoes, eat, and clean up on his own. He can dress up to some extent and we do help him every time.
During initial months, he’d get very upset if we ask him to do work. To avoid frustration, we’d encourage him through his favorite things. For example, we’d tell him ‘let’s get ready Jeev. We are going to the play area”. He’d get excited to visit his favorite place that he wouldn’t think about putting his shoe as a difficult task (as I said, we help him dress up every single time. But sizable work is done by him).
Our kids learn from our actions and valuing money starts from us. It’s early to say if my son is learning any values. But we want to keep trying and keep teaching him the value of money and hard work. Looking forward to knowing other methods you guys are following to teach money values to your kids.