Ever forget your child's allowance?

MoneyTrail automatically keeps track of allowances and keeps you organized.

Every Dollar Counts!

Teach your child to keep track of their money. It reduces impulse spending.

Finances shouldn't cause headaches!

Practicing money skills when young can lead to stress-free, responsible finances as an adult.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Encouraging Your Child to be Charitable and Giving

Giving jars
From Chris Radcliffe's Flickr photos
Part of learning to handle money in a responsible manner is also learning how to be charitable and giving in nature.  I would venture a guess that no parent wants their child to become a miser and act like Ebenezer Scrooge, but parents may worry that if they focus too much on financial concepts their child might become overly fanatic about money.  Striking a balance between managing their own money and helping others is yet another skill that takes practice. 

As with many money management concepts, there are differing opinions and methods.  The key is to find the approach or combination of approaches that works in your family and that matches your family’s values.  I have seen two fundamental approaches to getting kids involved in charitable giving.

Structured Income:
One idea is to have your child divide all of their income into portions, such as a Save portion, a Spend portion and a Share portion.  The amount of money that is placed into the Share portion would be allocated for a charity donation.  For example, if your child gets $5 per week for allowance, you might split it into $2 for Savings, $2 for Spending and $1 for Sharing.  If you child does not get an allowance, you could also use a percentage method for the money that they earn from extra jobs, such as 40% Savings, 40% Spending and 20% Sharing.

Model the Behavior:
Other parents want their children to independently choose to be charitable instead of making them divide their income.  They believe that to truly teach charitable giving, kids need to want to give their money as opposed tohaving to donate.  With this approach, the parents model the desired behaviors and encourage their children to get involved.  Examples would be involving the children in deciding which charity to donate to or getting the family involved in fundraising activities for a specific charity.

I think it is important to note that charitable giving does not exclusively involve giving money.  Kids need to know that giving involves attitudes and service, not just writing a check.  When children see their parents helping a neighbor, picking up trash or allowing someone to go in front of them at the grocery store, they are witnessing kindness and a giving attitude.  I truly believe that if a child sees this behavior on a regular basis, they will be more likely to adopt this attitude themselves.  Daily random acts of kindness are the foundation for developing a giving attitude.

There are many types of service activities that kids and families can get involved in.  Kidsactivities.net  has a fabulous list of community service ideas that can involve kids and families.  Here are a few of their thoughts:

  • Bake cookies for a local senior home or a fire/police department.
  • Plant produce and donate the harvest to a local food bank.
  • Pick up litter at a park.
  • Collect travel toiletries and donate to a local shelter.
  • Make a gift basket for someone in need.
  • Make a book on tape to contribute to a local daycare center or pediatric patients.
  • Make bookmarks and leave them in a basket at your local library.
  • Have a neighborhood book drive.  Donate books to a local shelter or day care.
  • Make fleece blankets for children’s hospitals.
  • Offer to wash a neighbor’s dog or car!
  • Collect items for care packages to be sent to the troops.

How do you develop charitable giving with your kids?  Please share your ideas.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Need to have a Money Conversation with your Child? Start with a Book!

Have you ever tried to talk with your child about saving their money or working hard to earn their money?  And…did they tune you out or roll their eyeballs back into their head?  Instead of launching into a lecture about important financial concepts, try introducing the topics through a book that you and your child have both read.  There are many great literature classics that have money and business concepts embedded within the story.  You and your child or teen can begin with the shared experience of the story and you can lead the conversation into a financial discussion based upon the character or the situation.

Here are a few of my favorite books that you can use as conversation starters to talk about money, jobs and entrepreneurship.

Books for Young Kids:

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Clooney
Miss Rumphius was given the challenge when she was a child to make the world a more beautiful place.  This lovely book illustrates the impact that simple things can have on the world and kids can learn that you don’t need large amounts of money to make a difference.

Alexander’s grandparents gave him a dollar on Sunday.  This story follows Alexander and his dollar through the week and beautifully illustrates his struggles to make good decisions with his money.

A close up look at all the jobs in Busy Town.  Great for preschoolers!

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
How much should we willing give to help another person?  Shel Silverstein’s classic story of a tree and her boy shows the true meaning of giving. 

Books for Older Kids:

Anastasia is a 12 year old girl who decides to get her first job, as a companion to a wealthy, elderly woman. She makes a mistake on her first day at work and must continue to work to pay off her debt to her employer.

Henry and the Paper Route by Beverly Cleary
Henry is a 10 ½ year old boy who desperately want his own paper route.  Henry sets out to prove that he is capable of handling a route by introducing himself to the route manager, creating an advertising campaign and helping out  whenever possible.  Money is not the only reason he wants the job.  He also wants to do something “important” and wants to prove himself capable.  This story illustrates self-pride, motivation, creativity and entrepreneurship. 

Ramona and her Father by Beverly Cleary
Ramona is a precocious 2nd grade girl who is having a rough year.  Her father has lost his job and her mother has gone back to work full-time.  The family is showing the strain of a reduced income and change in family lifestyle.  Ramona wants to help by doing a TV commercial and getting paid a million dollars!  It is a timeless tale of a family pulling together in hard times but it is wrapped in humor and love.

Lunch Money by Andrew Clements
Lunch Money is about a middle school boy, Greg Kenton, who has always been obsessed with making money.  Greg started with a lemonade stand and progressed to buying candy and toys in bulk to sell at school.  The story takes a close look at commercialism in public schools and the existing attitudes toward entrepreneurship.

Books for Teens:

Money Hungry by Sharon G. Flake
Raspberry Hill is a 13 year old girl who lives in the projects with her mother.  Her memories of being homeless and eating handouts drive her to think about money constantly.  She is in survival mode and will do anything legally possible to prevent living on the streets again.

Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolf
LaVaughn is a 14 year old, inner city girl who needs a job to save money for college.  She answers an ad for a babysitter and begins working for Jolly, a 17 year old, single mother of two who is just trying to survive.  This book is a bittersweet story of how two teen girls help each other and learn to “make lemonade”.

In this classic tale, Charlie, a poor young boy, gets a golden ticket to enter the Wonka Candy factory and a chance to win a lifetime of wealth for his family.  He is faced with unethical choices and “get rich quick” schemes.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Mary Lennox is a spoiled little girl who unfortunately becomes orphaned and as a result, goes to live with her reclusive uncle in England.  Through a secret garden and unlikely friendships, Mary learns that money doesn’t buy happiness and she is able to reconnect the family relationships.

What books have you found that have money concepts embedded in the story?  Have you shared them with your child or teen?