Four Ideas on Raising Kids Who Are Smart with Money

Like any parent, you want the best for your children. More than simply providing, your job as Mom or Dad includes teaching them how to handle the responsibilities of life, and that includes managing money wisely. How can you steer them in the right direction when it comes to finances? Read on for some tried-and-true techniques you can use when teaching your sons and daughters about money.

Allow for Allowance

Allowance can be a divisive issue. Some parents like to tie their children’s allowance to chores and others prefer to set a weekly amount with conditions attached, such as a set amount going toward savings or to charity. No matter which parameters you set or how much or how often you pay up, establishing an allowance is a good idea. With control over their own funds, your children will be more likely to think twice about blowing it all on another Elsa doll or Nerf gun.

Set Goals (and Expectations)

Don’t just pass out an allowance or tuck birthday money into the piggy bank – talk to your kids about what they can (or should) be doing with their cash. Many families make savings a priority and incentivize the option to save by matching, dollar for dollar, any amount the child puts into their account rather than in the spending pile. Or, if your child has his eye on a new toy or game, sit down with him and figure out how many pennies, nickels, quarters that is – it’s a smart way to sneak in a math lesson, too!

Let Your Child Drive the Shopping Cart

It’s not a coincidence that the brightly colored treats and sugary cereals are positioned right at a kid’s eye level at the grocery store. The sooner you can clue your kids in to the actual prices of the basic necessities, the more likely it is that they’ll remain conscious of these costs. For older children, have them set a budget for the week and join you at the store. Ask them to price-match their lunchbox requests.

Be an Example

The absolute, most effective way to raise kids who are smart with money is to set a good example of responsible saving and spending. You can most easily do this by keeping the lines of communication open with your kids. When they ask what “cutting back” means, tell them both why and how you’re doing this. Or, when you’re making a big purchase, like a new car, include them in discussions about pros and cons.

Too often, parents think their children won’t understand or that they don’t need to be burdened by the information. By openly and honestly explaining the financial choices you make, you’re able to teach kids that money isn’t something to be afraid of, and instead, they should meet their finances head-on.

For more information and advice about kids and money, click here or here.

How do you bring finances into the family conversation at your house? Tell us in the comments below.


Tips & Tricks Learned from the MCU 2015 Spending Freeze Challenge

We must admit – your ability to freeze your spending truly warmed our hearts. Participation was strong, competition was high and we learned a lot about how our members found ways to put their wallets on ice. Read on for insight and advice from those who bravely took the challenge.

Preparation Counts

As the saying goes, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Our freezers took some serious steps to prep.

“To prepare for this challenge, I made all my meals for the week yesterday. Now, I will be spending less money AND eating healthier.” – psmcp5

“My gas tank is full, kitchen is full, and I’m ready to go! This morning, I had to seriously fight the urge to check my emails and get the latest deals.” – MacKenzie Bowden

“I have my baby’s diapers, wipes, etc. bought in bulk from Costco so all set for the most essential piece of the next 10 days!” – Laura Jackson

Stay on Target

From rewatching old favorites on Netflix to creative interpretations of leftovers, our spending freezers took the task seriously. But that’s not to say that temptation didn’t call.

“It’s the afternoon soda that’s killing me. I started brewing my coffee at home and bringing a thermos to work, but I’d come to rely on the midafternoon fountain refill from the gas station.” – spatton99

“I am a bargain shopper so the hardest thing for me to give up during this challenge is hitting up my normal stores to check out the clearance racks and do some couponing. I feel like I am missing out on deals!” – Breanna Dunnavant

Keep Busy

Planned distraction seemed to be the key for participants. They came up with some clever methods of keeping their accounts on lockdown.

“We got quite a bit of laundry cleaned and put away and in the process, we gathered all of the kids’ worn-out pants and hemmed and patched until they were good as new!” – Breanna Dunnavant

“We have all the kids this weekend, so we are hanging at the park instead of our usual shopping trips for snacks or toys. Should probably take down the outdoor Christmas lights, too.” – Gina Overmann

“I am spending the day with my grandma and have chosen to stay in and paint with friends as opposed to going out.” – MacKenzie Bowden

Family Matters

Getting the whole gang on board was part of the challenge for many participants. Modifications had to be made for everyone.

“My kids are adjusting! They wanted a snack run when I got home from work a little while ago and I told them we couldn’t and they said “Oh yeah, we’re saving, not spending.”” – Amanda Carothers

My husband is the money spender in the house. He is getting adjusted now at day six but toward the beginning he was getting tired of hearing ‘Can’t do that because of the freeze.’ We talked about it last night and I think he has learned a lot about his spending habits.” – dmcdade03

Super Sunday

What’s a spending freeze without some obstacles? America’s holiday, the Super Bowl, fell on Day 7 of the freeze. Many challengers had to pull out their IOUs for the big game and ask friends and family members to cover what they could not.

“I had a Super Bowl party at my house. However, we planned for this and did potluck so everybody brought something!” – Amanda Carothers

“I was not prepared for the Super Bowl. I found items I had handy in the kitchen and then went on Pinterest and found a recipe for mozzarella stuffed meatballs.” – dmcdade03

Winning More

Only one contestant proved victorious and that was Mizzou college senior Tricia Morgan. She commented on our blog all 10 days and garnered the most ‘likes’ through the final Facebook stage of the freeze.

Morgan received an email from Relay For Life the second day of the contest, giving her all the motivation she needed. “I hadn’t fundraised my entire goal yet for the Relay For Life walk, so I though what better way to meet my goal than to win the money?” said Morgan. With the help of her friends, co-workers, sorority sisters, family, and “some guy from West Virginia I’d never even met was tweeting the link” all lending their support, Morgan won the freeze and donated the $300 to the American Cancer Society.

Participation Prize

Despite only one person receiving a big check, we think everyone who participated is a winner, in some way or another, whether through the money they saved or the personal challenges they met and conquered. Some contestants even considered giving themselves a personal challenge.

“I went over my budget thoroughly and eliminated some unneeded expenses and learned that I don’t really need these things. Seeing how much I saved will be motivation to not splurge!”- Amanda Carothers

“Woo-hoo! Last day! It’s felt great not to spend. I saved a bunch of money over the last 10 days and I rekindled my love of cooking. I am going to try and personally stretch the challenge until Friday!” – Hali Ipaye

Thank you to all of our participants – you guys did an amazing job. We hope you had as much fun and learned as much as we did!