When my husband and I began teaching Lauren and Taylor how to save, spend and share, we started by setting family goals. We kept it very simple and talked to the girls about saving money for a family vacation to Turks and Caicos while we ate dinner.
We didn’t mention it once or twice, but often and with great enthusiasm. We wanted the girls to feel excited about achieving our save goal. We talked about the fun things we would do at the resort and gently explained this was why we were very careful about buying any extra items.
Kids are kids. They are going to see things they want. It would have been easy to say, “no” and leave the store. But “no” is not a satisfactory answer to most children. A child always wants to know “why” and understanding the reason behind the why is how they learn.
We reminded the girls about all the things they were looking forward to doing on our vacation. Because our girls felt so vested in our family goal, we were able to reason with them, so they would prioritize the vacation over whatever new toy just caught their eye.
These days the girls are seasoned vets when it comes to save, spend and share. We set a huge save goal this year— a Disney Cruise. The girls constantly talk about all the Disney characters they will be able to meet and are incredibly conscientious about doing their part to make sure we save enough money to go on this special cruise.
In fact, Lauren is almost too vested. She is a very responsible girl, but a few weekends ago, she lost her retainer. She was so scared we would have to cancel our trip if we needed to replace it. It’s such a delicate balance teaching the girls about money. I don’t want Lauren to worry herself sick or become fearful of money. At the same time, I also want her to learn there are money consequences too.
So I sat down with Lauren and explained to her about our emergency fund. The money her dad and I put aside for situations just like this. Situations we couldn’t predict would happen, but if they did, we didn’t want them to derail us from achieving our goals. Some day she would build her own emergency fund to protect her save, spend and share goals. I thanked her for recognizing her mistake had consequences and appreciated her concern. Thankfully, mom and dad had prepared for such events.
I share this with you, so you can properly set expectations with your kids. You want them to feel vested in the family goals, but not at the sake of their self-esteem. Lauren should not bear the weight of whether we save enough money for our Disney Cruise on her nine-year-old shoulders. She should, however, understand the role she can play in helping us achieve the goal.
My girls and I have been talking about money since they were toddlers, and I understand starting these conversations can be a bit intimidating at first. To help you out, I’m developing age-specific tip sheets with step-by-step instructions to help you integrate save, spend and share into conversations with your children. My goal is to have these available in November.
I’m incredibly proud of my daughters and how they embody the save, spend and share mentality. And I look forward to celebrating the achievement of our save goal with them (and Mickey and Minnie Mouse too) next year.
What is your family saving for?
Your point about kids always wanting to know why jumped out at me. How many times did we all ask grown-ups why only to be told because I said so. So many teaching\learning opportunities were missed out on and replaced with I said so.
P.S. I love cruises. A Disney cruise will be so much fun for your whole family.