Giving your child a wallet may be more important then giving them a piggy bank.
I noticed as my boys were getting older they didn’t quite grasp the concept of money. They also had not developed a respect for it. Their grandparents, like most grandparents do, would reward them with a dollar for a job well done or my father-in-law would try and make them laugh by pulling a quarter out of their ears. The kids would get excited, say thank you, and a few minutes later would put their money down and misplace it. I wanted my boys to learn to respect money. I also wanted to start teaching them the basic concepts of money that they will continue to build upon as they grew. We want our kids to have a successful financial future, so to start a good healthy relationship with money we got them all wallets.
Each of our boys have piggy banks. While piggy banks are great and important to teach savings, I think teaching responsible spending versus savings is also important. That is where the wallet comes in.
Why is giving your child a wallet important?
• A wallet makes a child feel grown up and gives them a sense of responsibility for their money. Getting my boys a wallet taught them that money is something to be respected. It is not a toy and it is important. They no longer get money, put it down and forget about it. When they do get money, they run and find their wallets to safely store it.
• To learn about money, kids need to be able to interact with it and use it. What a child learns in school on work sheets is great but when it comes to money, they are not truly learning until they get some hands on experience dealing with it. Kids need to be able to see and feel the real deal. In the era of debit cards and credit cards, children are not really getting exposure to cash. They are not able to conceptualize the process of commerce. Having a wallet has taught my children that when you have money, you can purchase items and when you do not have money, you cannot get something you may want.
• Ownership. When a child has their own wallet, filled with their own money, they realize that what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours. Giving my children a wallet, has afforded me the opportunity to teach them that my wallet is not theirs and that if they want something they have to dip into their own wallets. When we go on outings where I think they may want to ask for something, I remind them before we leave that if they think they are going to want something they are going to have to bring their wallets. They know that if they have not saved they won’t be able to buy anything and if they do see something they want, they don’t ask me to purchase it for them. My boys have learned to count their own money and figure out what they have to spend and what they can and cannot afford.
• Saving versus spending. Having a wallet is not an open invitation to spend everything you have but it is an opportunity to learn valuable lessons. As my boys have gained experience with money and purchasing, they have also developed saving skills. My seven-year old really wants an expensive robotics robot. He has made the decision to not spend the money in his wallet and save it until he reaches his goal of affording the robot. The lesson of saving came only after he spent his money on a small trinket and then realized he was that much further away from being able to afford his big purchase.
Learning about money is one of the most important lessons our kids will need to learn to be successful in life. They can be really smart, get a great education and eventually get great paying jobs, but if they don’t learn how to manage all that money they will earn one day, they won’t have successful financial futures. Get your child a wallet and let them have some hands on experience early on and put them on the path to success.
Do you have any other tricks or tips you use to teach your children about money?