Just Say No: Teaching Kids the Value of Money
A “no” may result in a tantrum today, but it could make for a happier, more successful adult tomorrow.
We’re all familiar with the problem: entitled kids and teens who take the nice things they have for granted. It’s a common problem. Of course, savvy teens are quick to point out that there are plenty of entitled adults walking around, and they’re not wrong. But that’s an issue for another time.
As parents, there are some things we can do to start teaching kids the value of money and to help them become willing to earn things in life rather than expecting everything to be handed to them. Here are a few ways to strategically say no to things that your children want, but haven’t earned:
- Start giving them a consistent allowance at an early age.
- Have them do daily chores at home.
- Use trips to the store as opportunities to just say no.
1. A Consistent Allowance
We started with our kids when they were about five years old. They each had three envelopes — one for saving, one for spending, and one for giving. They knew if they wanted something non-essential, they would have to save up for it. (Though yes, we did occasionally buy our kids toys, so don’t email me about being a mean mom.)
Further Reading: “Stuffing Envelopes With Cash Can Be Rewarding!”
Although we didn’t tie the allowance to doing chores, they knew that if they did extra things around the house, they could earn extra cash. When they wanted to buy new toys, they were always on the hunt for opportunities to earn extra money.
If your children ask for money they don’t have to buy something they want, you have to just say no.
This can be difficult to do, especially when you have the money to give. But don’t rob your kids of the satisfaction of working hard and saving up for something by using their allowance or money they’ve earned.
2. Daily Chores
From the time kids are old enough to toddle around and play with toys, they’re also old enough to pick up those toys and put them away. Three-year-olds can set the table. It might not be up to the highest standards, but they can do it.
Have you ever noticed how much young children just want to help? Let them! If you do, they will be more willing to pitch in later in life when things need to get done. Besides, if you don’t let them help fold laundry, how will they ever learn?
If they’re getting ready to go to a friend’s house to play and they haven’t done their chores? Just say no. If you don’t require them to fulfill their obligations now, then don’t be upset when you have a 35-year-old living in your basement who won’t even help take out the trash.
Further Reading: Check out more tips for teaching kids about money at any age.
3. Every Trip to the Store Ever
As a parent, you know that you’re probably going to be asked to buy stuff when you go to the store. Instead of treating this as a huge annoyance (which it can be), use it as an opportunity to just say no. Of course, this means that you will also have the opportunity to say yes.
The next time you go to Target, plan to make it a successful trip with your child. Have her bring their spending envelope with them to the store so she can buy something if she wants to. Leave the house 20 minutes early so that you have time to look at the things that interest her.
If she wants to buy a toy and doesn’t have enough money, then just say no. But also help her come up with a plan of doing extra chores or helping out a grandparent so that she can earn the money that she needs to get that new toy that she’s dying to have.
Instead of making every trip to the store a source of conflict, get on the same team with your kid. Help her figure out how to earn what she wants. Maybe even teach her how to look for ways to save money using couponing tools like Ebates. In short, say no, but follow it up with a lot of practical help and support so that the ultimate outcome is a big yes.
Further Reading: “Jobs for Teens: Convincing Your Parents to Hire You”
The Bottom Line: Why You Should Just Say No
Giving everything to your kids without requiring any effort on their part is a great way to raise entitled adults who expect everything to be handed to them. You aren’t going to ruin your children’s lives by saying no to them.
In fact, just saying no and allowing them the dignity of earning their own way (within reason) is one of the best ways of teaching kids the value of money. It will even help you raise people who have enough confidence in themselves to work hard and go after what they want in life.