I base my parenting mostly on research, rather than gut response or intuition. Whenever Mini starts doing something new, or if he is about to hit a new stage of development, I crack open my MacBook and start googling to figure out how to handle it. (Oh who am I kidding? The MacBook is pretty much always open anyway. But I do start centering my searches on topics pertaining to Mini, rather than things like “how much does Dooce make,” “clever borders CSS,” or “is it possible to gain 18 pounds in one week?”) My theory is that through comparing and contrasting eight hundred thousand different theories on parenting, I will somehow arrive at the perfect recipe for creating a wonderfully well-adjusted and happy childhood. So far, this method has served me reasonably well. Now that Mini is 2, I wasn’t sure about when and how to start teaching him about work and money, so I decided to stat putting together a list of resources for teaching kids about money. The following are a compilation of resources, but I haven’t tried any of them yet and cannot endorse. Where appropriate, I’ve included the source so you can choose to experiment or disregard as it suits you.
- Get Rich Slowly recently had a post with recommendations for various genres of personal finance reading. Among the suggestions for books about kids and money are: Living Simply with Children by Marie Sherlock, Growing Money: A Complete Investing Guide for Kids by Gail Karlitz, and What Color is Your Piggy Bank by Adelia Cellini Linecker. All three of these books seem to be geared towards older kids, though, since they concern learning how to manage money and/or making decisions about money, rather than introducing the whole system to a kid. But these do seem like interesting books to check out for the future.
- Simplemom has created a downloadable chore chart for preschoolers to help them understand helping out around the house. The post outlines how the money the preschooler earns is divvied up, including three jars: one for giving, one for saving, and one for spending (influenced, no doubt, by Dave Ramsey’s recommendations). Simplemom supplements her discussion of chores with an introduction to toddler money training here, and it seems like a sane system. Since we are agnostic, we would not be asking Mini to pay tithes or anything like that with a portion saved for giving, but one way to do this for us would be to have that be the kitty out of which he buys presents for people while he’s young, and later on, causes that he believes in. I’m still working on this formulation.
- CNN Money in its article about “How to Unspoil Your Kids,” offers a chart with recommendations about when to introduce different financial concepts to your children. According to Jon and Eileen Gallo, authors of The Financially Intelligent Parent, you should start giving chores and allowance in the ages 5-9, as well as introduce the concept of charity. This seems like it’s a little late to me: maybe toddlers won’t totally get the concept of saving and everything, but if they’re trained from age two to put money in a savings jar, that cannot be bad, right? Frugal Dad, on whose recommendation I reviewed the article, offers his insight here. His spin on the Gallo’s recommendation is insightful and is definitely worth a look.
- Dave Ramsey introduced a line of personal finance products for children several years ago called Life Lessons With Junior. A sample story is available on his website, and there are also interactive games available on the Junior’s Clubhouse section of the website. I like the fact that there are picture books with stories that model budgeting in terms that kids can understand. I am a little hesitant about the series as a whole because I’m not sure how heavily–if at all–Christianity comes into play in the stories. But the money part seems good so far.
- The Frugal Duchess‘ segment on “How to Unspoil Your Kids” was featured on ABC News, but you can watch a recap on WiseBread.
- A whole line of products designed to teach kids about money is available at TeachingKidsMoney.com, including a storybook (Mama Money & The Three Little Pigs), a piggy bank, an allowance chart, and other assorted products. Read Frugal Dad’s review of the program here; though it is not clear that Frugal Dad was directly paid for his review, he states that he was provided with a free kit from TeachingKidsMoney.com, so you can let that influence you or not as you look over his comments. [Edit: As Frugal Dad indicates below, he was not paid for his review, and though he did receive free materials he was also instructed to give an honest review by the manufacturers. Sound like it might just be as awesome as he states!]