Isn’t Christmas a tough time for encouraging gratitude in our children? We want our kids to be grateful for their blessings, but when the candy canes are flowing at school, ads are peddling gimmicky toys, and relatives are showering them with far too many gifts, it can feel like you’re fighting a losing battle!
Demonstrating gratitude and financial restraint in front of our kids is important, but to really learn they also need to experience it for themselves. As a financial adviser (and a mum of young children) I encourage other parents to be deliberate in teaching their children from an early age that money doesn’t grow on trees. Kindergarten is a good time to start, and the school canteen is a great motivator.
Like many families, we link pocket money to chores. Kindy kids can get themselves dressed, brush their teeth, pack their bags etc, while older children have more responsibilities. My 9 year old does some of the laundry and vacuuming, and also gets credit for her piano practice. There are many apps for keeping track of their responsibilities, and these make it easy to consistently keep kids accountable without having to print new checklists regularly. I start my children with $3 per week in kindy and increase by $1 on each birthday.
At the end of the week we tally the percentage of jobs completed and they only receive that percentage of their pocket money (an app really helps with this).
Our piggy banks have 4 sections (Spend, Save, Donate and Invest) and pocket money is divided evenly between these sections. The kids can use their ‘spend’ money on whatever they like – no questions asked. Zooper Doopers at the canteen, claw machines at the Macquarie Centre, but when it’s gone, it’s gone. (And they quickly learn that some choices are a waste of money!) The ‘save’ money can only be used towards a goal nominated in advance. An e-reader was the first thing my daughter bought, and it was a very exciting purchase indeed! The ‘invest’ money is placed in their high-interest bank account and is invested in shares when a minimum balance is achieved.
At Christmas time, the ‘donate’ section comes into its own. I encourage my children to choose a charity close to their heart and give all that money away – money they know that they earned. Last year my daughter sent $30 to the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre, and it thrilled her to bits! (It was a proud Mummy moment too.) Alternatively, consider asking them contribute to a sponsor child about their own age who they can also write to.
Teaching children the value of money at a young age will empower them and set them on a path of good financial choices without losing sight of what’s important, particularly at Christmas time.
Lonni Aylett is a local mum of 4 and a financial adviser at Ord Minnett Financial Planning.
She has a passion for helping young families (often on tight budgets) achieve their financial goals and values the long-term relationships she builds with clients through the different stages of life. She has assisted many Ryde District Mums and their families.
Her office is in the Sydney CBD but she lives in Ryde and does local home visits in the evenings. Her number is 0403 344 816.