We all know kids should learn the value of a dollar early on, but your child may be a bit reluctant to part with his hard-earned allowance. Fortunately there are ways to make saving fun, or at the very least comfortable, for you and your child.
What’s most important as you start a savings program for your child isn’t that you save thousands of dollars – although that’s very possible. But that you model effective and wise financial decisions for the future. Practice what you preach and you’ll both come up ahead.
1. Get a Great Piggy Bank
Putting money into a bland bank isn’t nearly as exciting as filling up a giant water cooler bottle with loose change. You can get pretty creative about your choice of piggy bank, but do try to do something a bit unique and different to keep it fun. A regular piggy bank isn’t required, of course, although it’s a good start. You can save money in a jar, a bottle, a cup or in the bank. Putting money into a giant football might not be much different than putting it in a mason jar, but somehow it just feels different.
2. Match Savings
Who doesn’t like other people’s money? Make savings much more enjoyable for your child by offering to match his savings every week. He tucks away a dollar from his allowance and you match it in a bank account or in his piggy bank. You might even match it again in a separate account to help your own savings habits develop.
3. Save for a Goal
To make saving easier, especially for a child who is used to spending money rather than saving it, have him or her start saving for a specific goal. If your child wants a new video game, for example, research together how much the game costs and figure out how many weeks of allowance or how many chores he would need to do in order to earn that amount of money. Make him a chart or even draw a line on a clear bottle to make it obvious how much he has to save to make it to the goal.
4. Chart Progress
Make a paper chart and draw lines like you would on a thermometer to measure how much you’ve saved. This is especially effective if you’re saving for a goal. As you meet certain levels of progress, color in how far you’ve come.
5. Allow Visible Savings
While saving money in a bank is natural, it’s important to be able to see or at least hear how much money you have when you want to check it. The little future bankers around us want to count up all of those coins. Be sure to get a piggy bank with a plug that comes out easily so you can dump the money out, count it up and then put it back again. A smart choice for a bank may be one of the battery operated options that counts the money as you drop it in. Teaching your older child how to log into an online savings account works well for this purpose as well.
6. Open a Savings Account
Make it official by opening your child’s own savings account. You can do this online if you’d rather not go through the trouble to visit the bank, or go to the bank and open up an account officially. You child can sign his name and feel the responsibility and pride that goes along with having his own money, his own bank account and his own choices in regards to how it saves, and later spends, it.
7. Allow Your Child to Earn Their Money
We all know it’s much easier to spend ‘free’ money than it is to part with a dollar you worked and sweated for. Make savings more rewarding for your child by allowing him to work for those dollars. Make a chart of household chores that are the right balance of obligation, diligence and simplification and then assign a value. Wiping down the counters in the kitchen might be worth fifty cents, for example. Using window cleaner on the big patio doors – inside and out, mind you – would be worth $1. Teaching your child about earning money makes it much easier for him to save it.
8. Offer Direct Deposit
We know, as adults, that direct deposit simplifies saving enormously. Offer the same option to your child. When it’s allowance time, deposit half of his allowance into his own bank account and give him the few dollars that remain. For many children, having money in the bank is a source of pride. Not having it in hand makes it much easier to avoid spending in a moment of desire as well.