Editor’s Note: I’m pleased to welcome Corinne Kerston to The Heavy Purse. Corinne blogs at One Income Life and is a freelance writer. If you’re interested in sharing your story, please review my guest posting policy and contact me. Take it away, Corinne …
Raised in a strict Asian household, I grew up in a family where money and gifts pretty much equated love. Sadly, I don’t remember a lot of hugging going on. Even today, my grandparents show their affection by handing out money whenever we need it.
That’s all fine and dandy, but I want more for my kids. Yes, apparently I want it ALL. But really … I don’t want them to grow up thinking money comes easy. Or that there will be gifts at every turn.
I want them to be smart about their money.
I’ll admit it; this isn’t always an easy feat. With family members being ever so happy to spoil them for every occasion (sometimes that occasion being because it’s a Wednesday), it’s difficult. Here are some tips to raise money-smart kids, even with not-so-frugal extended family.
The sooner your talk to your kids about money, how to use it and how to manage it, the better. If possible, start when they’re toddlers. While they won’t fully understand what saving and spending mean at that age, you can start them on the right path to saving their money and teaching them how to live on that money. For children that are already a bit older, an allowance can be a great teaching tool. Keep in mind that allowances only teach something if you have set rules, and when you stick to them.
Make managing your household funds a family affair. Let your kids help (or watch if they are still young) balance the checkbook, manage your online accounts or pay the bills. This allows them to get an idea of money in the “real-world.” You know, one where gifts and money don’t come at every turn. Show them that money gets spent on things and then it’s no longer available.
While you can’t always control what your extended family will gift your kids with, you can control how your children view things. You do want them to be appreciative of the things they get, but you also want to make sure that they appreciate the things that aren’t monetary or physical. Show them the value in spending time together, doing simple activities like taking a walk or playing a game.
Just because they receive clothes and toys, doesn’t mean they should be wasteful. Teach your children to get value out of what they receive. Is it something they really don’t want or need? Consider donating, selling or re-gifting the item instead of keeping it anyway.
No, I don’t mean that in a mean way. If your kids are only spoiled during holiday times, you’re in luck. You can strategically deprive them throughout the year; they will be more appreciative of the things they do receive on special occasions. If your family is like mine where every day is an occasion for gifts, your battle will be a little more difficult. What we do is make sure that our kids are appreciative of things when they get them. We also try our best to make sure they never ask for things. It’s one thing to get gifts; it’s another to expect them all the time. Also, if you’re able to head off your family and act as the middle man, you can try hiding some things so your kids aren’t overloaded with stuff.
If your kids are older, they are old enough to understand. Explain to them that just because family members want to spend money and dish out gifts at every turn, does not mean everyone else will, or that it is a wise money decision. Again, talk to them about being appreciative and not wasteful. Explain your financial values and set a good example for them to emulate.
If possible, have a heart to heart with your family members. Explain to them that you are trying to teach your children about the value of money and that you would appreciate it if they could cut back on the gift giving. In some families, you will be met with support and compliance. In others, not so much. If your family is in the latter category, you can try a different tactic. Offer suggestions of toys or gifts that will actually be used, and useful, in your household.
Teaching your children to be financially wise and a bit frugal can be hard when extended family isn’t quite in the same mindset. While it can be a challenge, it’s not impossible. Demonstrate your values as much as possible and lead by example. Your children will learn how to be financially-wise, even in a spendthrift world.
About the Author:
Corinne Kerston is a professional writer and blogger. She specializes in B2B and B2C content. Her goal is to help businesses boost their exposure through engaging, well-written content. Connect with her on her website or Twitter.
My 6-yr-old is probably similar to your son. She sometimes gets a bad case of the "gimmies." She wants everything, and it's hard when her great-grandparents will pretty much buy her anything she wants. We stay diligent, and try to show her that scenario isn't reality, that she just can't have a new $100 Lego set just because she wants it.
This is a great approach! My daughter is 6 as well and at a great age to finally understand not only the literal value of currency, but how money decisions are made. Thanks for sharing!
I think that's a great plan! Better to make those mistakes while they are under your roof than to push them out into the real world ill-equipped. Sounds like you have a great plan in place
No red envelopes (or lion dances) here, but my grandparents had money and they helped pay for private school, college and just about everything else. However, I don't remember them hugging me or saying I love you in my entire life. My parents weren't too frugal either, my mom passed away with a ton of debt. Not sure how I turned out to be frugal, but I'm grateful that I did. It makes life less stressful to not have a ton of debt.
And I know what you mean about going the other way. My husband grew up opposite of me, so when he started working, he would buy whatever he wanted and not save. He did admit it was because he didn't have much when he was growing up he was over-compensating.
Oh boy do I know about the toys that have no lasting value! My daughter especially, wants everything. But nothing really holds her interest for too long and we end up with different toy sets that don't get played with. Drives me insane! Every now and then we purge her toys, sometimes she helps, sometimes I do it so she has no idea what I'm getting rid of.