How to Raise Unspoiled Kids
6 ways to make Junior money savvy
Your child is clearly a perfect angel… until she goes psycho in the middle of Toys “R” Us demanding a Dora backpack RIGHT THIS SECOND.
Before you resign yourself to a lifetime of raising a little Veruca Salt, take a deep breath and read The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous and Smart About Money by New York Times financial columnist Ron Lieber. Here, a few of our favorite takeaways from a book that will pretty much pay for itself.
Demonetize the Tooth Fairy
A dollar bill under the pillow is so 1984. These days, the tooth fairy accounts for inflation, leaving $4.36, on average. But kids talk, and when Joey gets a $20 bill, your tyke might expect the same. Lieber encourages parents not to play the matching game. Instead, get creative by handing out international or gold dollar coins, or leaving a small gift like Mom-made cookies.
Nix the Piggy Bank
Throwing all of your kid’s money into one pot makes it hard to track and easy to spend. Instead, break it up into three storage containers labeled “spend,” “save” and “give”--which introduces the idea of budgeting. Some parents even create an incentive to save by matching the amount put away, as long as it sits untouched for a certain amount of time. Think of it as a 401(k) junior.
Don’t Pay for Chores
An allowance is not a wage. Kids should be pitching in to help the family because that’s what families do. If your tween contests this, charge her the going Uber rate the next time she needs a ride to the mall. The point of an allowance, on the other hand, is to teach children how money works. Start off with 50 cents to $1 a week for kids under 10, then give a small raise on each birthday.
Teach Them About Stuff
Instill in your children an appreciation for social relationships over things. This means encouraging your toddler to share his favorite toy truck or giving kids experiential--rather than physical--gifts.
If Bobby volunteers to wash your Honda, pay him what you’d ordinarily spend at the car wash. If your 5-year-old wants to clip coupons for a grocery-store scavenger hunt, let her keep the difference in savings. You’ll have a business-savvy go-getter on your hands in no time.
Stop Skirting Money Talk
Veiling finances in secrecy only teaches kids that money is taboo. The next time little Lucy asks for another Shopkins play set, don’t brush her off with “It’s too much money.” Instead, explain what else the $20 could buy. Addressing where your salary goes—mortgage, grocery bills, tennis lessons--shows your kids that being financially smart is different from being a big old meanie.