Money $$ Allowance, Family Money, Saving and More

Did you know that tweens in the U.S. spend about $15 billion of their own money each year? Wow!

Hubby and I felt we’ve really not done a very good job on teaching the kids about money, saving and finances.  We definitely want the kids to have more responsibility and practice with money while they are young… saving for trips (to have spending money) and spending their money wisely. This week, we started a short unit on money and finances in math. Some of the topics we’re covering include family money (in the broadest sense) and taxes, managing money, allowance, saving and planning.  All this started when we sat down with the kids and decided to start up the kids’ allowance again a couple weeks ago.  It’s a long story why we stopped (about 9 months ago), but it was important to us to have the kids start planning and saving their own money.

One thing our family decided early on (since many ‘experts’ recommend this, though not in the book I recommend below) is not to tie the kids’ allowance to their chores. They do chores simply to help the family. We also have a pool of ‘odd jobs’ that the kids can do to supplement their allowance.

I really like the way allowance and money is explained in the book, Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees. She suggests that kids divide their allowance/money into four different areas: charity, quick cash, medium-term savings and long term savings. For now, our family will combine quick cash and medium term savings as “spending money,” but I like that idea and may come back to that later. This book is chock-a-block full of great ideas and it’s a great resource.

One of the first things I did was make a very simple money diary for them to keep track of their money and spending goals. We sat down with each of the kids and showed them how to write down the money that came in (allowance or money from odd jobs) and how to deduct money they’ve spent… sort of like balancing a checkbook. You can make your own sheet to suit your kids’ needs, but his is what I made the kids:

Allowance and Finances Sheet for Kids

Then we talked a lot about money, smart spending and the importance of saving. A great place to start was with this book, Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday, that we borrowed from the library. It was a great book for talking about the importance of planning ahead and spending money wisely:

I made a discussion sheet to get the kids thinking about money.  I had them answer some of the questions on their own before talking about these questions together (we talked quite a lot about needs vs. wants (the last question) and made a chart listing as many things as we could in each column:

Saving Money – Discussion Sheet

A wonderful resource I came upon is Money As You Grow. This has 20 things kids should know to live financially smart lives. It provides 20 essential, age-appropriate financial lessons AND has corresponding activities you can do with your kids from the age of 3 all the way to age 18+. It has a terrific set of ideas, no matter what the age of your child. For example, the activity suggestions for 3 year olds is

  • Identify coins and their value.
  • Discuss how you may value something that is free, such as playing with a friend.
  • Identify items that cost money, such as ice cream, gas for the car, or clothes.
or for 7 year olds, the lesson is that it can be costly or dangerous to share information online. Be sure to visit Money As You Grow  developed by the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability in 2010. You can also print out a poster if you visit that site.

Meanwhile, I’m using a series of pamphlets from themint.org as our core (for information and read aloud materials) in this mini-unit.  I’ll highlight the ones we’ve used/are using:

Where does the family money go?

The kids surprised me with the list they came up with of family expenses. They did a great job!  We added more as we read through the pamphlet above:

Helping Your Family Save Money (from kids.gov):

Let’s Talk Allowances

Watching your spending, Planning, Money Diary

Spending and Saving

We also watched a virtual tour of a money factory put out by kids.gov.

Anyway, this is by no means a complete unit on finances, but it has sure sparked some good conversations about money! Actually, I have a few more things to write about — but I think I’ll save that for another post (I’m out of time for now.)

Oh and by the way, much of the information above was over ED’s (my preschooler’s) head.  For her this week, we are just playing with money — “buying and selling” things with coins. I’ll try to share about that later.

By the way, we are not going to cover credit (and credit cards), though this is an important topic too and we will address that sometime in the future. If you want to talk about it, you may be interested in this pamphlet that I saw– Reaching Savings Goals and the Dangers of Credit.

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  1. [...] Basics: Math: The kids made steady progress this year. We started allowance back up this year (see this post which talks about the curriculum we used to really delve into money, savings, etc.) — and this has been extremely valuable. The kids have been responsible, saving their money [...]