By Maxine Marsolini
Modeling, communicating verbally, and offering real-life opportunities will form within your children the discipline and habit they need to faithfully handle money their entire lives.
― Howard Dayton
Summer puts school on hold but learning shouldn’t stop. Use these days to instill money smarts.
Parents know it’s easier to pull the cash out of their pockets rather than engaging in a lengthy conversation with a son or daughter in order to convince that child to spend his or her own money, but the payoff later will be worth it. Unless youngsters are expected to provide for some personal wants and a few basic needs (designer jeans or hairspray), they will not be prepared to manage money as an adult.
To manage money, there has to be money to oversee. An allowance, linked or not linked to chores, is a good way to begin. The amount should be age-sensitive and moderate—not enough to provide everything he or she wants or needs. Parents give guidance for spending. Begin with simple categories. Three jars or boxes are all that is needed to teach basic budgeting. The first one is labeled Saving. The second Giving. And the third Spending. One way to divide up the money is to put fifty percent into Savings, ten percent into Giving, and forty percent into Spending.
Be sure to use currency that divides easily. For added fun, decorate the containers with paints, markers, or stickers.
Add to the allowance an income stream earned from doing extra chores. It should be understood that all members of the family participate in the working order of the family like taking out the trash, setting the table, or picking up toys. Chores for pay are extra jobs like sweeping the driveway, pulling weeds, or washing the car—jobs made available as incentive to earn more cash. One dollar might be enough to sweep the front steps, $2–3 for pulling weeds, and maybe $4 to wash the car. If the family owns a business, pay $20 to clean the office. Get creative about any number of jobs that might need to be done.
Remember the goal is to teach discipline in money management. It’s natural to want to shower children with good gifts. But what feels natural is not always beneficial to their growth and development. Money does not grow on trees or magically spit out of a box on the bank wall. There has to be an association between money and work that takes place in the child’s mind. When a parent displays restraint, and does not pay for everything requested, the child’s character begins to mature. He is put in a position to figure out another way to have what he wants—or not buy it at all. This pivotal moment turns into an all-important lesson in delayed gratification.
Treat kids with respect. Pay them in the same prompt way a boss would pay you. Pay when the work is done or at an agreed-upon day, such as Saturday morning. Don’t pay for work that is not finished—or of poor quality. That gives the wrong message. Expect the job to be done well at an age-appropriate level of performance. A ten-year-old will not wash the driveway as thoroughly as his dad or sixteen-year-old sister. He’s ten! The lesson being taught is one of work ethic, which prepares a young person to one day step into adult shoes in the workplace.
Look for teaching moments. Such as being charitable. A parent’s example is important. When children value giving, some motivate parents to do more than they dreamed possible for others. One such story is about Hannah, a teenager in Atlanta, Georgia. After seeing a man driving a Mercedes on one side of the street and another man holding a sign asking for money for food on the other, she inspired her family to sell their home and give half the money to help others.  The average family won’t set such a big goal. But God can do great things when even small amounts are set aside to help others.
Be a wise parent. Build character by training your boys and girls to earn, save, give, and spend wisely―to appreciate the value of a dollar.
 Howard Dayton, Your Money Map, 2006 Moody Publishers, p. 223
 Megan Cherkezian, “The Power of Half,”, Guideposts, February 2010,
*Portions taken from Rebuilding Families One Dollar At A Time, chapter 15, 2011, Maxine Marsolini with Charlie Marsolini
Maxine Marsolini is an author, life coach, founder of Rebuilding Families, and host of KRVR The River blog talk radio. Her newest book was co-written with financial expert, Charlie Marsolini: Rebuilding Families One Dollar At A Time empowers readers with a clear path to financial freedom. www.rebuildingfamilies.net and www.blogtalkradio.com/krvr