We all have dreams. Women have dreams. Men have dreams. Adults have dreams. And children have dreams uninhibited by the limitations we place on ourselves when we’re grown. As parent’s we’d love to see our children fulfill all of their aspirations. In general, some of those aspirations cost money.
Your kids may be fantasizing about that Disney Princess Playhouse. Or the latest Lego playset. Heck, if your child is extremely far-sighted they might be dreaming of their first car or their college years. Whatever their goals, it can be extremely tempting to sweep in and fulfill them. Not only is that sometimes not possible on our family budgets, but doing so also denies them the opportunity to learn the skills of savings, hard work, and delayed gratification that will benefit them for the rest of their life.
Some kids may not want to save their money. It may burn a hole in their pocket causing them to cave and buy a candy bar every time you’re in line at the grocery store. So here are some tips to make saving money fun for kids, even when that chocolate bar is calling their name.
1. Make a bank where they can see their progress.
I love these visual piggy banks. Essentially, you take a shadow box picture frame, put a fun picture in it, cut a slit in the back, and insert the money. You can see it piling up through the glass. While the ones in that link are super cute, I like the idea of putting in a picture of what they’re saving for even more, as the visualization will remind them what they’re deducting money from every time they think about robbing the piggy bank.
2. Make a progress chart.
When I was a kid, any time we were working towards a big goal that seemed insurmountable, we made a chart similar to this one. Every time you reach a certain benchmark, say, saving $10, you get to color in a square. Even if you’re only half way through to your goal, you can see all the progress you’ve made, and it reminds you of all the work you put in to be able to fill in the chart thus far. These really taught me that I could accomplish big things if I just took it a little bit at a time, rather than giving up and saying it was impossible.
3. Parenting Hack 101
I’ve got a secret for you: young kids will work for stickers. Whatever you’re trying to encourage them to do, stickers are usually enough of a reward to build up their motivation. It’s like magic.
Once they get a little older, stickers are still an amazing tool. There’s a reason schools use sticker charts to track progress and dole out rewards, and there’s no reason you can’t use the same method at home. Make a sticker chart, deciding how much money needs to be saved in order to earn one. Make each unit attainable, and have a picture of the end goal in the last column. Stand in shock and awe as most kids will start saving away!