Teaching Your Kids About Saving Money and Delaying Gratification.

Money and money topics can be tough!! Right?!? We have whole blogs and websites devoted to teaching adults about saving money, and how to not screw up with your finances. And yet, here am I trying to teach these things to my kids too.

In some ways kids are easier to teach than adults. They aren’t set in their ways, and they may not have established bad money habits yet.

But on the flipside, some money topics are complicated to understand as a kid. Things like mutual funds, taxes, and real estate returns are not really on the radar of a ten year old. But we have been trying to drill the basics into their heads.

We have been specifically discussing saving money and working to earn money. Like adults, kids can sometimes have trouble looking to the future instead of living just for today.

As a kid, if you have twenty dollars in your spiderman wallet, the first thing you want to do is go to the store and buy the first toy you see. It literally burns a hole in your pocket. I was this way, and I’m sure you were too. But as you get older, you should start to develop some self control, and not impulse spend your money away.

So to help solidify the concept of saving money, we presented a proposal to our kids . . .

The Proposal

It was June of 2017, and I presented the proposal to my two oldest boys.

“Whatever you want, if you save up at least half of the money for it, I’ll match it – dollar for dollar, so that you can buy it.”

They were excited, but they wondered out loud what they actually wanted. And on what could they spend their money? Then the oldest exclaimed with a gleam in his eye, “I know exactly what we should buy!”

They decided on a basketball hoop for the driveway. They had previously asked me to buy them one, but I had refused. Mainly because it was a rather large purchase.

So I agreed, and we went to look at basketball hoops. After pricing them, we decided that to be fair, each of them should save up $100, and I would put in the rest. Of course it would depend on which basketball hoop we actually bought when the time came.

The Saving Up Period

They started by counting the amount that they each had in their banks. My oldest son had previously spent some of his money on other smaller toys. So he started with less.

I encouraged them to set aside money that was specifically towards the basketball hoop. My oldest son had set aside around $40, and his younger brother started with somewhere in the neighborhood of $70.

But they each were determined to reach their goal of $100 as soon as possible.

At first they were energetic and gung-ho about saving and working. They worked some odd jobs at some relatives’ houses. But just like with adults, it takes time to succeed with some of those larger financial goals.

Their energy soon faded as the weeks and months wore on.

There were a few instances during this time where they received money, and they were tempted to spend it on other things. My oldest son in particular was more easily led astray by toys and candy that he wanted to buy.

That $100 goal just seemed too far away to actually happen.

But they stuck with it, and didn’t spend it. They saved money from their birthdays. And they saved money they received for other holidays, like Christmas and Halloween. And any other monies they could get their hands on.

My youngest son reached the goal amount first. Mainly because he started with more. But he reached the goal about 6 months after we started. At this time, we put his $100 away, and we waited for my older son to catch-up.

When my older son received money, his brother would encourage him to set it aside.

“Don’t spend that!! Save it!! Arghhh, we’ll never get the basketball hoop!!” he would say.

Finally, my older son accomplished the goal, only 10 months after the initial proposal.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if they would actually make it or not. My older son had plenty of weak moments where our (my wife and I, and his brother) encouragement was the only thing that kept him from spending his money.

The Payoff
basketball hoop with kids

So, on the first day of spring, we pulled the trigger on a new basketball hoop. We got a better deal than we had originally planned, and both of the boys got a basketball as well.

We ended up splitting the price of the basketball hoop evenly 3 ways with each of us putting $70 towards it.

I had a proud Dad moment, and we walked out of the store with a basketball hoop that my sons had saved for. They even got $25 back!!

We set it up, and they have been playing with it ever since. Seriously, they have been outside constantly, shooting bricks on that thing.

There’s just something satisfying about reaching a goal and enjoying the fruits of your labor. I know that feeling, and I’m glad that my boys have been able to experience it at such a young age.

Every time they see the basketball hoop in the driveway, they can say, “We bought that!!”

Conclusions

They would not have been able to succeed without the encouragement of those around them. Saving money towards a large goal is hard! Sometimes you think you’ll never get there. They certainly thought that . . . more than once.

And sometimes we need that encouragement as well. Being reminded of our goals keeps us accountable.

They also had learn impulse control. When you have $75, there are a lot of things you can buy. Especially as a kid. You can buy almost any toy in the toy aisle.

But they had to learn to say, “No, I’m saving money.” Because there was a preeminent goal. Even if it was in the future, it was still more important than anything now in the present.

And lastly, my wife and I chipping in some money to help them, kept them from feeling like it was just their goal. They knew that we were invested in their success as well.

We did it together, and I couldn’t be prouder.

How have you taught your kids to save money? And how have you been able to reach your financial goals?

Let me know in the comments, and thanks again for reading and sharing.

Author

Chris is the original Cash Dad. He's a father of 3 and a mechanical engineer by trade.

4 Comments

  1. When I read this I got a bit teary. Wow! They really did save a lot of money for little kids. What a huge accomplishment…and lesson for them. You are such an amazing father to encourage and teach them good money habits at such a young age. I know some day they will thank you for this. And hopefully, they won’t make the same mistakes we did.
    Love you!
    Kate

    • Chris Reply

      They did good . . . I’m proud that they stuck with it, and succeeded. ?

  2. I love the concept and the fact that everyone followed through on the plan! This is definitely an approach I’d like to take in my daughters future. Now if I can just get her to love basketball as much…

    Thanks Chris!

    • Chris Reply

      Thanks Mike. It was certainly rewarding to see it pay off. Considering I wasn’t sure if they would even get there. ?

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