Years ago, I purchased a book called, “The Parenting Breakthrough: Real-Life Plan to Teach Kids to Work, Save Money, and Be Truly Independent” by Merrilee Boyack. From that book (which I LOVE by the way), I created a plan to help teach our children the importance of earning and saving money.
We first purchased a posterboard for each child. Each posterboard had enough space for six paper printouts on each side. Each paper you see taped to the posterboard represents a one year period. Each month is listed along with what the child needs to put towards their savings. Below that are two squares — one for the child and one for the parents (we match what they save).
When the child reaches their monthly amount and puts it into savings, they get to put a sticker on that month. When mom and dad match the amount they deposited, we put a sticker on our box. The amount they owe each month was determined by my husband and I in advance. We made a plan of how much we wanted them to save over the years to have for a mission, marriage, school, etc. and made a plan accordingly.
Each time their birthdays roll around, the amount they owe increases. In the beginning, when they were small, they only owed $1 a month. They would help do extra work around the house or for grandparents and would get soooo excited when they could put their money into their account. As time went on and they started owing $5 a month or more, they really had to get creative and figure out how they were going to make that happen.
How have my children earned their money? Babysitting, shoveling snow, mowing lawns, cleaning out cars, soccer refereeing, dog sitting and more. One summer we temporarily had a cotton candy machine and made up a whole bunch of cotton candy and sold it throughout the day. We divided the earnings between the children that helped and it helped get them ahead.
Do they ever fall behind? Yes. Sometimes with school work and life, they fall behind, but they understand that when an opportunity comes for them to make money, it will go into their savings first. When they are caught up, they can choose to get ahead or have some extra spending money.
Not only that, there have been a couple of occasions where we have had to remove some of the stickers. One of my sons was almost a year ahead of schedule and was doing wonderful!! However, at church they did a fundraiser and sold some coupon books. My son was given three books to sell and unfortunately he lost them all. He had to take money out of his savings to cover the lost books, leaving him barely on schedule (savings-wise) and no longer ahead. He learned his lesson and has never had money taken out of his account since.
Find what works for your family. We’ve adapted the original idea into something that has worked for us. Saving money is much easier in bite size pieces than trying to come up with a huge amount all at once. It’s an important lesson for our children to learn in responsibility, self-reliance and budgeting. How do you teach your children to save money?