Thirty years ago would it have been any crazy to suggest that when you pushed a button on a metal box money came out. Today our kids rarely see use cash or coins to pay for purchases. They just see us get money from an ATM. We always said money does not grow on trees. Wow! So why do we wonder why our kids might be confused about money and our family budget.
Sometimes as parents, we just expect our kids to understand when we say, “No” to items they want us to purchase for them. We may give them an allowance or pay them for chores without helping them to understand how a budget works. I do not suggest explaining the details of your family finances with your children. I do suggest you help them to understand how a budget works.
Make a budget sheet. Make a copy for each family member. Start with the most important budget or largest item first (Usually the mortgage or rent). Gather up 100 pennies and put them in the middle of a table. Count out the number of pennies that represent the percentage of the hundred pennies. Continue down the list. After everything on the list has been deducted from the 100 pennies, then count the number of pennies that are left. Have a discussion about how to spend these pennies.
Next come up with ideas of how each family member could make more money or save more money.
Next set out a jar for the family to put money in. Vote on the purpose of this jar.
We had a vacation jar. Whenever my kids wanted to go out and eat or buy new clothes etc. I would ask if they would rather put the money into the money jar. They really enjoyed watching the vacation jar getting fuller and fuller. When it came time to choose our vacation, we used this money as discretionary money for little luxuries.
Why not turn a hectic trip to the grocery store into a learning experience.
Play one of these grocery games.
Have each person make out a grocery list with 10 items for breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack. Next have them look through the newspaper to find items on sale or coupons. Take a trip to the grocery store and price the 10 items each person chose. Back at home compare the total grocery cost for each person. The lowest price total wins.
Next try this game on a computer. Only this time have each person look in the kitchen to see what items are needed before making their list.
Years ago the banks offered "Christmas savings accounts". We put $25 per month into the account starting in January of each year. In December we withdrew the money to pay for Christmas presents. Your family could decide to either save money for Christmas or to make Christmas Presents. Some stores have started offering "Lay Away" again allowing you to pay a little each week for your gifts without incurring the finance charges of a credit card.
Information is power. When our whole family shares in a family budget even if it is just for groceries, then everyone can become involved in making life easier and happier.