Bright ideas from our readers: teaching financial responsibility

GreatSchools' readers give advice on teaching kids about money.

By GreatSchools Staff

Thanks to the many readers who responded to our question about what to do about allowances and teaching children about financial responsibility. Here's a sampling of what our readers had to say:

Learning not to be an impulse buyer

A reader in California writes: "I try very hard to teach my 7-year-old son the value of money, the consequences of spending and saving. On impulse buying: Ever since he was a toddler, whenever we go to the store, I show him the grocery list and explain why we were there in the first place. If it is not on the list, we don't need it and therefore we are not buying it. "Another trick that really works is honing my son's appreciation for window shopping. On Friday afternoon we would have our window shopping event. I let him browse the toy section without interruption. And then I ask him what he wants the most and he can save for that, or if he gets lucky, buy it on payday if it is not too much."

Living on a budget

A reader in Pennsylvania writes: "Since my child is more cautious of prices when it is his money he is spending, we establish the items needed, store sales, etc. as you suggest. Then 'we' establish a budget, which I in turn give him in cash. I purchase necessities such as shoes, socks, underwear and a winter coat. He must purchase everything else with his cash. There are times I add a little money, such as if there is a nice shirt he likes & I would like him to have, we agree on an amount he will pay ($15.00 or so) and I pay the difference. This has worked for the past four to five years. My son will be 16 in May. He attends a public school that does not require uniforms."

Tying allowances to chores

A mom in Arizona writes: "In our family we do tie allowances to chores Monday through Friday. For example, my-9 year-old gets $1 per day ($5 per week) if chores are completed by the time Dad gets home. Of that $5, 50% goes to savings, 10% goes to tithing, 10% goes to the poor and 10% goes into her mission fund. However we also have Saturday morning chores where she has to wash windows, dust, help vacuum and wash the van in addition to her regular chores. These chores do not get a monetary reward. But if we all finish our chores early enough we get to go do something fun or just hang out doing whatever we want. We linked the Monday to Friday chores to allowance because it goes against my grain to just hand my kids money. I want to prepare them for working at 'real' jobs and doing their best in a timely manner. By the way, they always seem to have plenty of money and buy gifts for gift giving or for themselves. Sometimes we even borrow from them. My 5-year- old gets 50 cents per day or $2.50 Monday through Friday. He is currently saving for a $60 remote car he thinks he must have. It will take him several months but by the time he purchases it, I think he will have a great understanding of money. So far it is working out great and we have very responsible kids."

Cashing in

A reader in California writes: "When I was growing up, my mom would give us poker chips everytime we did our chores or volunteered helping. We would keep them in an empty coffee can. At the end of the week, we would cash our poker chips in for money. Then we would decide what we wanted to do with that money. It taught me that it's worth saving up to get what I wanted."

Sharing the cost

A mom in kentucky writes: "For my 14-year-old daughter whom we give an allowance, I tell her that I will pay half of whatever she wants to pay for clothes. She is very, very selective when she has to pay 'her' money and many times will decide she doesn't really want it afterall. "

Start them when they are young

A parent in Michigan writes: I have a 4-year-old who I want to be financially responsible. Therefore, whenever he helps do something, I give him a dollar. The dollar is usually used to go to McDonald's or to get ice cream. He does not have a set allowance, but he is positively reinforced for helping out around the house. The actual money equals about $25 per week. However, he is in charge of paying for anything for himself! We do charities too, and he puts $2 per week of his money into the church basket."