Learning to Save

This post was underwritten by BMO Harris Bank, which offers a matching $25 on a new savings account opened for your child through their Helpful Steps for Parents program. Learn more at bmoharris.com/parents.

I am not a good saver of money. I have money, I want to spend it. It’s terrible. For this reason, I have set up all kinds of automatic savings processes thereby eliminating my ability to spend my money before it goes in to savings. Some comes out of my paycheck into retirement savings, some automatically goes from checking account to savings. So how does a non-saver teach her children how to save?

Fortunately for me, my husband is much more fiscally frugal/wise/conservative than I am – so that helps.

But here’s how we are helping our kids to understand the value of money:

• Piggy banks, everywhere • The kids have several piggy banks spread throughout the house. Whenever loose change shows up, we say, “Quick! Put it in the piggy bank!” Anna is saving up for our next trip to Disney World. I’m pretty sure Eric thinks his is going towards a robot.

Make comparisons and prioritize • When we’re out shopping and the kids ask for this or that, I ask them to read the price to me. We’ve even gone over to look at the prices of milk and fruit to compare.  Getting through a grocery store with kids is hard enough, so I don’t take this much time a lot, but it does help stop the constant refrain of, “Can we buy this?”  If I’m letting them choose something to buy, we talk about the expense and how long each item might last. Anna in particular is really impressive in her ability to put off an instant gain (small toy now) for something better (Disney World) down the road.

• Counting games with coins • The kids are really in to counting things!  We like to play counting games with change, and they’re starting to get the monetary value of each one. Not that coins will be terribly important in the future – don’t you worry sometimes that coins will go away? I’m not sure why I’m nostalgic about pennies, but I am.

One of our favorite stops at the Hollywood Farmers Market

• Let them pay for some things • Especially at the Farmers Market, where we are interacting directly with the producers. There is something powerful about exchanging dollars for honey with the person who produces the honey.

Why do I go to work? • At least once a week, little Eric asks me, “Why do you have to go to work?” {my heart breaks every time!} I used to just say, “Because I have to!” But for the last several months, I’ve been answering, “So we have money for our house and for food and to go on trips!” We’ve had a couple of lengthier conversations about it, because I think it’s good to normalize the concept that we need money to do the things we have to and want to do, and that we have to work to get that money.

I never say we can’t afford something • We are not poor. We are not rich, but we are not poor. We live in a wonderful house with the most amazing neighbors, in a city we love full of trees and access to nature. We have enough food and clothes. So no, we are not poor. If the kids want to buy something and I don’t, I don’t say, “We can’t afford it.” Instead, I say, “We’re not choosing to spend our money on that right now.” I just think it’s good to manifest abundance instead of manifesting need or want!

So what do you do to help your children save and teach them the value of money? This non-saver could use some additional tips!


UPDATE: My mother-in-law wrote a guest post on this topic!
UPDATE: We made our own “piggy” banks
I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. To learn more about BMO Harris Bank, visit their website http://bmoharris.com/parents.



Filed under Family, Travel, Work

10 responses to “Learning to Save

  1. Pingback: Better Than a Piggy Bank | Mostly Mommyhood

  2. I love the idea of telling a kiddo that we’re not choosing to spend money on that right now. I’ll have to start using that. My 4-year-old loves playing with coins and she has a little collection that she sometimes gathers up in a purse to “treat” me at a store. I steer her toward something she can afford and help her measure out the coins. We often involve her in our farmers’ market purchases too.

    • That is great, Laura!
      I need to get you hooked up with our network of Pacific Northwest bloggers on Cascadia Connect! We’d love to have you join us! Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll send you the invitation.

      • That sounds lovely, Krista! I’d love an invitation.

        By the way, I was thinking of your money lessons yesterday when I took my kiddo to spend her birthday gift certificate at a local toy store. It was a great lesson. She right away decided to buy a few little things instead of one big thing. As she picked out possibilities, I told her the prices, and a few times we sat on the floor and counted up how much money her choices would cost. She ended up having to rearrange her priorities a few times and put a few things back. She was so proud of her choices.

  3. Pingback: Teaching Kids the Value of Saving Money {Guest Post by Judy} | Mostly Mommyhood

  4. I adore your honesty here, and I share the same -ahem- money challenges and have the savvy husband to make up for it!

    I loe your ideas, and how conscious you are of helping your kids!

  5. Very, interesting. I have not thought about what I will *hopefully* say to our future children regarding purchases we will or will not make. Very insightful! I wish I had learned to save when I was young! Way to teach your children!

    • One thing I can say without any hesitation: Almost everything I thought about parenting flew out the window once I became a parent. That said, it’s good to know what values you want to instill in your children. It affects everything!

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