At my MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) meeting on Friday our speaker talked to us about teaching our children about financial matters. He is a financial adviser at Edward Jones, and the father of three (if I recall correctly) children.
I first decided that he was pretty cool when he eschewed modern technology and used an overhead projector and transparencies. (And not because he lacks the know-how to use power-point).
He started out by asking us how many of us talk to our children about money. A number of women raised their hands. Then he asked us what we tell them. There were a variety of responses, but my favorite was "Don't EAT it". I especially appreciate this because I tell my children the same thing often.
He then asked why we thought it was important to teach our children about money. One of our mentor moms (someone who has passed the preschool stage and lived to tell about it) piped up "Because if you don't you'll end up with a twenty-something son still living at home." Of course, she was speaking from personal experience.
-Basically we should teach our children about money so that they can make wise decisions.
Next question, what do we want our children to know about money
-My favorite answer here "It all belongs to God." --This is a totally awesome way to look at it, everything is his, we are just the stewards, and someday we will give account for the decisions we made. The other answer I really liked "It's supply is limited." One of the things we talked about was not telling our children "I can't afford that". Instead, we are to say "That isn't in our budget" Or "We have more important things to spend our money on".
Then we talked about how we should teach our children about money.
-Set Financial Goals. We need to sit down with our kids and set goals with them. Both short term and long term. And we are not supposed to criticize them for unrealistic goals. "What is your short term goal?" "I want a TV" "How much do you think that costs?" "$6.00" (Do not tell your child, "A TV costs way more than that, that's absurd") . Instead, write down there goal and encourage them to save money to achieve it.
-Use Self Discipline. I figure I need to work more on this one myself. One of the best ways we teach is by example. He shared a story about a family that took their children to Toys R Us and let them pick out any toy they wanted and then would offer to either buy the toy or set the money aside for a trip to Disneyland. I guess they bought a lot of junk before the first trip to Disneyland. But after that the kids were much more willing to set aside the savings.
We also talked about giving to charities and helping to find things your children can be involved with. And he also talked about taking a child shopping with you and having them help you to compare prices on products and to help you choose which ones to buy. Then there was a rant about how many mothers talk to someone on the cell phone while they shop instead of enjoying the time that they are spending with their child.
...I love to shop with my children. Especially if I only have one of them with me. Then I can give that child extra attention. It usually ends up being a lot of fun. Although Abigail is starting to think grocery stores are boring. Unless she gets to ride the Horse.
After the speaker we had discussion groups. I mentioned in my group that we give Abigail an allowance and that her receiving it is contingent on her completing her chores/behaving herself through the week. I about had someone chew my head off. She said it was absolutely horrible to do this because then your child would only do chores if she was getting paid. Yada Yada Yada!! And she didn't pause from her tirade to let me defend myself either.
Truthfully, motivating a three-year-old can be difficult anyway. I think she probably just felt mad because she didn't make her three-year-olds do chores at all. That's just my theory.
I got an allowance as a child, and I think that was probably a good thing. And we certainly learned about saving. When I was six we saved up and bought a Nintendo (they were brand new at the time). It turns out it takes a long time to save 100 dollars for three children who each receive one dollar a week.
So I'm in favor of an allowance. At least for children who are too young to earn money any other way.