Making the Family Budget a Family Affair

teaching children financial responsibility

When it comes to the family budget, it’s not only important to make every penny count, but to make sure you’re making every action count. This means building healthy financial habits so that you’re able to save money in the future. This doesn’t go just for yourself, but for your kids as well. After all, the family budget may be managed by you, but it is utilized by everyone, even those who don’t have access to the purse strings.

Getting the kids involved in the budget can be an unwieldy task though, so here are some fun, easy strategies that go a long way in teaching children responsible financial habits.

Have Them Help With the Shopping

In order to learn the value of money, kids need to be familiar with how much things cost. Have them help you with the grocery shopping, pointing out why you might choose one purchase over another (this off-brand because it’s cheaper, not that one because the quality’s not the same, pasta in bulk because the price per unit is lower, not milk because it will spoil, etc.).

After they get some experience, hand them the list and watch them make the purchasing decisions, guiding them when necessary. As they get older, incorporate them into the meal planning, so that they see the whole process of deciding what to buy, and paying attention to what things will cost. Give them a budget for one meal and have them plan it according to what is already in the house and what needs to be purchased. This will help them have a financial mindset when it comes to planning not only meals, but “extra” activities as well.

Give Them Access to Money-and Choices

Many parents allocate their children a weekly allowance in exchange for basic chores. This can teach them work ethic, but some families have found that it gives them an expectation to be compensated every time they contribute. A way to combat this is to make some basic chores that everyone is expected to accomplish (making their beds, cleaning up personal messes), while assigning other person-specific tasks that receive payment. So one person might be responsible for vacuuming, while someone else makes sure the trash is out on the curb at the appropriate times.

A popular money-management tactic for kids is the spend, save, share method, where children’s allowances are split into three funds- one for them to have immediate access, one for saving, and one for charity. The problem with this method is that it doesn’t give them any choice- they’re not learning anything, they’re being forced to save.

Instead, give your kids their full allowance, and then incentives to save. This can be the goal of a significant purchase, like a fancy toy they want, or you can set up a system where you pay them monthly interest on what they’ve managed to accumulate. This will teach them how interest works in the real world.

Let Them See You Make Decisions

When making financial decisions, whether it be a large purchase or the monthly budget, let your teens sit in and witness your reasoning. Watching you move funds around and balance priorities will not only teach them better habits, but will give you the incentive to set a good example. Have them watch and listen as you get car insurance quotes or negotiate loan a deal. The more they see of your family budget and financial situation, the more they will want to contribute, and be prepared for their financial future.

There are a lot of money sites aimed at kids, so you won’t be alone in teaching your children healthy habits.

How involved are your kids in the family budget? What are strategies you’ve used to teach strong financial awareness?


written by:  Amanda Jensen


image courtesy of stock images,

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