Teaching Your Children About Money and Responsibility

Responsibility is a lesson that can be hard to learn.  As adults, we know what responsibility is – everything from working, to paying bills to taking care of others.  As we grow, responsibility grows.

For my daughter, I handle big responsibilities – ensuring she has a roof over her head, food to eat, and she gets the education and physical activity she needs.  I think it’s also important that she learn responsibility.  Part of teaching responsibility is also teaching the value of money.  Another lesson that can take some practice to learn.

The approach we’ve taken to teaching her these two important is giving her a number of age-appropriate chores. She receives an allowance based on the number of chores she completes in a week.  We use a “chore chart,” which features graphics showing the various chores we expect her to do, and she can check off the ones she does as she completes them.  Her chores include things like dusting, cleaning her room, making her bed, and cleaning up toys.  These are all chores she has been able to handle as a five year old.  As she grows, her responsibilities will start to include bigger chores like washing dishes.

The money she earns is hers, and to teach her the value of that money, we identify a goal she would like to save for.  In our case, we are planning to take a trip and on that trip, she would like to purchase a “princess dress.”  We’ve researched the cost of the dress she’s working for.  I’ve told her how much the dress will cost, and we subsequently track how much money she has towards the dress by depositing it into a bank account.

We did have to explain the bank account to her a little bit as she didn’t understand why we were giving the money she had earned to someone else; we simply explained that the bank “holds” the money for you and keeps it in a safe place.  That explanation seemed to help her understand why we were taking it there.  But to help give her a more visual idea of how much money she has earned, we also have a little “thermometer” where we fill in how much she’s earned, up to the amount of her dress.

The “chore chart” and “thermometer” are not necessary, but my daughter loves visuals.  These don’t have to be complicated and lots of samples can be found through an online search.

We have found that since she started with her chore chart, and set her financial goals, she has begun to understand a little better that items come at a cost, and that you need to work hard to earn those items.

Although concepts around these lessons can be sometimes difficult for young children to grasp, a few simple activities, like the ones described above, can help teach your little ones responsibility and the value of money.