Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees: Teaching Your Tweens the Value of Green
Now’s a great opportunity to help kids learn about the value of money. Not just that it’s useful or necessary—but how we get it and how to maximize its value.
Here are some interactive ways to help tweens understand money—from where it comes from to how we spend it.
How we earn
The next time your tween asks for (fill in the blank: online music, new clothes, money for dinner with friends) turn the conversation around to start with the fact that you can’t spend money without earning money. The money that you are giving them is only there for the spending because you earned it by working, presumably a job that someone finds value and is willing to pay you to do it. Now bring it to their level:
Tell them if they want to earn an allowance, they’ll need do a certain number of chores and each chore has a specific value. You could also give them the option to earn more by taking on extra tasks. That will help them understand how money relates to work. Connect the value of work with money earned. Once they’ve thought about how they will earn, they can think about how they will spend it.
- Identify the thing or things they are most frequently spending (read: asking for money) on.
- Ask your child how many hours of chores they’d need to do to earn it.
- Look at two of their most frequently purchases items and compare how many hours of chores it would take to purchase one or the other.
- Ask them to think about if they could only have one, which one would it be and why? Would they be willing to do more chores to earn enough for both?
This also helps kids understand that money is a finite resource and there are always trade-offs and decisions to be made.
Why budgeting and saving is so important when we spend
Some kids view parents as walking ATMs. Explain you have to work to get money. Often the amount you earn is a fixed amount. Right now, many of us are dreaming about where we will go on our next vacation. Use this daydream as an opportunity to demonstrate how a fixed budget works.
- Have your child (or each child) decide what their ultimate vacation destination would be.
- Give them each the same fixed amount, say $4,500.
- Let them research how much flights would cost for everyone in your family, the average hotel price per night and any other fixed costs your vacation would have for a specified duration.
- Now have them see what s left over for food, fun and souvenirs—not as much they thought, I’m sure!
- Now have them play with their budget numbers by seeing how much they’d have to spend if they spent fewer nights at the hotel, flew during a different time of year, etc.
- Ask them what their takeaways were and if they have a greater appreciation for what went into your last family vacation.
Showing why money matters, especially in uncertain times like these
It’s always important for kids to understand the value of money, but now more than ever. Make understanding money’s value an engaging activity by using games and activities to keep kids interested.
Be on the lookout for opportunities to reinforce money’s value. Next time your kid wants a purchase, talk to them about how the price tag relates to the chores they do or the hours you put in at work so they understand the true cost.
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2020-100632 Exp. 5/2022