I want my son to grow up knowing the value of money. We live in a society where is has become the norm to want the latest gadget the moment it comes out. When he comes home from school I am always hearing that one friend has this and one friend has that. It is worse at Christmas, children seem to get iPads, all singing, all dancing phones and iPods. These are expensive gadgets but all too often they do not value them. They seem to expect this and take it for granted. I worry that having expensive items readily available is creating unrealistic expectations for the future. I do not want my son to get into a cycle of debt that he can not handle. It is hard for a young person starting out on their own and in the current economic climate it is a lot harder. One of the most important things we can do for our children is to teach them the value of money.
I am trying to do this for my son in a number of different ways.
His Piggy Bank
This is his piggy bank, I love it as it looks so happy. I give my son a monthly allowance and it is up to him if he spends it or saves it. He normally has a big list of things that he wants but when he realises that his money has to last him all month it makes him more cautious. He will put his money in the piggy bank and leave it. Often when we are out he will say will you buy me this or will you buy me that. I am harsh and say no. I explain that the money I taken out of the bank is the money for food for the week and if I buy something for him we have to do without. I will then ask if he bought his pocket money out with him. Normally he has not so I tell him that if he really wants it then he will have to buy it himself next time we come to the shop. Usually he forgets unless it is something he really wants. I find this works really well. He loves to count his money and seeing how much he has. He has managed to save for some big things this way and really values them when he gets them.
My Piggy Bank
I also have a piggy bank, which is a little bit more serious. When my son has big items on his wish list, like an X-box or a Playstation I bring the breadbox into play. I tell him we may be able to get you something like this for Christmas but we will have to save up for it. I explain that it is expensive and we only get so much money a month which has to be spent on bills, food, clothes and fuel. If we have anything extra we can put it in the money box and save up for it. He is aware of the price of item and sees me putting money in my money box to save up for it. Hopefully when he finally gets the item he realises how long it took to save and values it all the more. I actually use this box for my £2 coins which are coins that can usually be spared as you do not get that many of them. It is amazing how much you can have at the end of the year if you save these coins up.
Cash for Chores
My son has chores that he must do every week. One of these is clean his bedroom which I hope is teaching him a little bit about being responsible. There are some tasks that he can do that will earn him a little bit extra money. These are extra responsibilities which he can either do or not do. For example if he helps me to weed the garden or wash the car then he will earn some money. Occasionally he will come up with ideas for these extra tasks himself which has got to be encouraged. You never know, in the future I may see him on Dragons Den. When he has had to work for the money he definitely values it more.
Start a Savings Account
I have set up a savings account for my son and make sure that every month I put a little bit into it for his future. I hope this will come in useful for him as a deposit on a house, driving lessons or other things that he may need when he is older. He knows he has an account but does not know how much is in it. A little bit each month soon mounts up at the end of a year. It is definitely worth doing this to help them in the future.
I am hoping these simple things will give my son a solid grasp of the importance of money and some idea of how to manage it in the future. When he gets a bit bigger I hope to teach him about budgeting and how interest works. These are all things I wish I had known before I left home the first time and would have saved me a lot of trouble over the years.