How Do You Teach Your Child the Value of the Dollar?

Updated on June 18, 2011
M.E. asks from Saint Charles, IL
9 answers

Hi Moms -

My daughter is six and thinks that we have a never ending supply of money. I am trying to teach her what things cost, not to be wasteful, it's too expensive to be eating out, and that sometimes there isn't money to replace things. I should also say that when it's her money, she is a lot more thoughtful about how she spends it. Today she told us "aren't you glad I'm going to my aunts this weekend so you don't have to spend any money on me or to buy me food?" Ugghhhh. We certainly don't want her to think that or to EVER feel that she is a burden. We just want her to aware that there are limits. She has relatives and friends who have way too much so this doesn't help. She has plenty, and I would (and do) do without before I would ever make her. I would love to hear what works for other families.

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answers from St. Louis on

Dave Ramsey Financial Peace Jr.

Here is a link - it gives reviews from other parents.

Shop around (ebay, amazon, etc) for the best price.

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answers from Chicago on

Here is a suggestion a social worker gave me a couple of years ago. Get a pack of play money--the kind with bills and cents. Then give her her paycheck and a list of things (or a budget) that have to be paid. Before she can do anything, she has to pay those bills. I did this with my kids and they thought it was awesome to have money left over. But that was because they did not think about groceries for the following week. Once we went over a full month, they saw how much is really spent on things we need and what if left for things we want. I also put in about saving for vacation etc. Then as they get the concept down pat, take them shopping and let them see exactly how money goes quickly. To a child, $1000 is a ton of money. To us, that's the mortgage.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I agree with Scarlett.

Financial Peace Jr. works wonders, except you do not have to buy the system from his site. You can set it all up on your own.

Make a commission chart- everything they do has a dollar amount (in our house, chores range from $0.10 to $1.00). When they do a chore, they earn commission. If I have to ask them to do it, they have forfeited their commission.

They each have a 'spend' jar, a 'save' jar, and a 'give' jar. Anything they want to buy- toys, prizes, ice creams, anything- comes out of their jars. If they don't have enough money, they can't have it. Simple as that.

Because they see the jar emptied quickly when they spend it, and because they have to feel the pain of not being able to have something they want because they don't have enough money, they quickly learn the value of money.

My kids love earning their commission. As a result, store trips have been much easier too, because they don't ask for things because they know they won't get it from me!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Biloxi on

I knew it was time to teach my son about money when I said we could not afford something and he responded with "well just write a check". Eeks, he thought there was an endless supply in the form of checks and swipe cards. LOL

So I started including him in the money decisions. The grocery was a great place - we would compare brands and prices and sizes for value. We shopped sales for clothing and more. I began explaining how much money I made and what our monthly bills were so he would understand that mortgage and electricity were more important than the newest fad toy advertised on TV.

I knew he was beginning to understand when he "scolded" me for buying items in the grocery that were not on the list. LOL

At 15, he knows our finances. Probably a little too much - as he always asks me how much I spend on something. But he is good with his own money also - he plans for purchases and considers carefully before he buys - it has cut down on his "impulse" spending.

It just takes time to teach them that "no" doesn't mean they are burden, but that you are being a good steward of your family's resources. Continue to teach, continue to reassure that she is not a burden (Ah, but isn't amazing how they master guilt at such a young age!), and she will get it in time.

Good Luck
God Bless

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dover on

I'm going to be totally honest here & say that we have precisely the same problem with my 10 year old daughter, though my son who is going on 12 isn't really too bad. I don't know what the answer is either. My kids are not spoiled, we do struggle a bit like everyone else, but we're making it work. Each kid is allowed 1 sport plus 1 instrument per year. We buy clothes when we need to, not whenever we want to. We do go out to dinner or order in whenever we can, so usually once every other week when we get paid. Mostly I try to make really good food at home, we rent from Red Box instead of going to the movies regularly, we go to the water park at the state parks instead of the giant & dirty private water parks in the area, etc. but nothing ever seems like enough for them. I, like you I'm sure, get sooooo sick of constantly being forced to say, "No, we can't do that today/you can't have that/we're not eating out/etc., etc., etc." It's exhausting & amazes me how many things they can even think of to ask for!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

GREAT question!

I'm dealing with this with my four year old son. The "Cars 2" stuff is e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e and have a constant fight that we don't need to buy it all JUST because MCQUEEN is on the box. Makes shopping very frustrating.


answers from Santa Fe on

The last 2 years our son (who is 7) has been very interested in money and also is ALWAYS wanting to buy things. We do talk about money regularly with him (like you are doing with your daughter) to try to get him to understand that as an adult you have responsibilities and can't just go out and buy all the cool toys you want. :) But what has really helped the concept click with him is we started having him use his own money to buy what he wants. We don't give an allowance yet and I'm not sure when to start doing that, but we have read some books on kids and money. I forget the titles right now. Anyway, our son gets money from relatives (for his bday) and for doing chores occasionally and from doing a lemonade stand. Once he started using his own money to buy certain toys he wanted he began to notice prices and started making decisions about looking for better bargains or even waiting and saving his money. Last year (1st grade) his teacher did a lot with counting money as well, so this helped. Anyway, I'm interested in seeing what other answers you get.



answers from Washington DC on

It sort of fell into our laps.
When my now 22 yo was 14 we moved into VA for the first time. THe other three were 8, 6, and 3.
I had to start skimping. One thing we did was freeze milk. It was almost a dollar cheaper at the commissary than at Walmart and my hubby would bring it home, 25 gallons at a time. THen the kids were on milk rations. THey hated it, the milk had floaties in it.
We also didn't have cable. It was just too expensive.

My girls now, 16 and 13, have been part of the household budget planning for a while. My son will start writing some of the checks during his math this year.
My eldest is in the NAvy, and refuses to get married so as to not let his family go through WIC and milk rations.



answers from Chicago on

We recently ran into this our 5 year old. It was just after Easter and we were at Target and he HAD to have a new toy that cost $27. I told him no, that he just received so many Easter gifts and he could put it on his birthday list (in July), or he could use his own money for it. He only had $4 in his piggy bank in bills and so we told him we would pay him a $1 for doing various chores. It took him about 6 weeks, but he saved up for it and was so excited when we went to the store to buy it and he brought his own wallet and paid by himself. He is now saving up for a $48 rocket ship. Now whenever we are at a store and he sees how much things costs, he compares it to his $27 toy. We were at a sporting good store last weekend and they had a $39 tent on display. He said, "That's a nice tent. We should get it. Oh, its $39 - that's a lot of money! Nevermind.". Knowing how hard it was to save up $27 has given him a great point of reference. When I tell him that his soccer classes cost $130, he can't believe it.

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