Just about everybody has the proverbial “rainy day” when it comes to finances, and even if your children have an exceptionally trouble-free, they still need to save for the retirement years. The sooner you encourage your kids to save, the sooner they’ll understand and be able to apply how saving ties into a plethora of other financial tasks.
Give your kid a saving buddy.
Whether it’s you, a sibling or a family friend, a saving buddy can keep your child accountable with his funds, making it less likely that your kid will make spending decisions on impulse. A saving buddy also can motivate your child to save a little more in some friendly competition.
Match the money.
Money has an awesome power in that, the more a person gets of it, the more he generally wants. Take advantage of this by offering to match whatever your child saves—he might buy less if he knows that every purchase means less return.
Get the savings out of sight.
Kids are smart in that they associate the physical presence of money with the ability to spend. Whenever your child puts his money out of sight, it’s a little less tempting to use—the simple fact your child has to go retrieve the money sometimes can be enough to deter a purchase. An easy way to get money out of sight is to put it in a piggy bank. Better yet, put it in a savings account. Under most bank service plans, this will teach your child about interest as well as basic banking practices. Just don’t let your child carry his money around all the time!
Keep track of the numbers.
Kids sometimes feel like their money is limitless. Show them it isn’t by using a notebook, chart, or other tools to keep track of how much money your child puts into and spends from his savings. This way, he’ll have an easy way to know whether he really can afford what he wants.
Play the waiting game.
Kids are still developing their ability to act more on rationalization than emotional impulse. Ward this off by getting your child to wait at least one day before he buys something. This works even for everyday kid purchases. For instance, if your child wants a candy bar, you might show him that he can save on the cost and get more if he waits a few days until you can go to a bulk food store.
Kids are adults in training. They don’t always have the facts that let you make good money choices, so you need to be blunt about your rationale. For example, tell your child flat out that your income is limited.
Explore your options.
It’s not always necessary for your child to make a purchase to get what he wants. For example, instead of buying a new book, he might be able to get it from a library. Get your child to do basic comparison shopping so he doesn’t spend more of his savings than required. Point out that getting something used doesn’t necessarily affect quality or function.
Give your child a limit.
Kids often spend their savings based on the savings amount. For instance, if they know they’ve got $100, they might see a $75 pair of jeans as affordable. If you tell them they can’t spend more than 50 percent of their savings at a time (or something similar), however, the same item can become off limits. This teaches your child that money doesn’t have to be spent just because it is there and that it’s not a good idea to drain a savings bucket entirely.