There seems to be a shortage today of people who have skills in saving money and an overload of those who are experiencing the stress that accompanies debt and financial disaster. We are raising a generation of people who don’t understand the concept of saving at all and subscribe instead to the “buy now, pay later” theory that is prevalent in our consumer-based society.
Patience and self-control are the character qualities that are lacking in the lives of many of our young people and that is because it is not taught to them by word or example when they are children. As parents, we should consider this one of the tasks that we must take on in order to prepare our children for their best futures possible. Even the youngest children can learn patience and self-control. These two qualities will assist them in many areas of their lives, including their financial success.
Small children learn well by seeing cause and effect for themselves. They learn very quickly, for example, not to touch the stove if they feel their little fingers get burned. They also learn quickly when they get what they want by throwing a fit that this is the best way for them to get their desires fulfilled. This is not, of course, the lesson that we want to teach, so we must make the necessary efforts to teach them different ways. Patience and self-control can be taught in several ways in regards to developing good habits for saving money.
One of the ways that children can learn to save and to enjoy it is by taking them to the store and picking out something that they want. Try to make it something that they will be able to save for relatively easily as their attention spans are somewhat limited at young ages and they will learn faster is the reward comes sooner in the beginning, rather than later. An item such as a new doll or a toy car is a good starting point.
Be sure that the child understands prior to entering the store that they will not be getting the item today, but only picking it out. When they have made their selection, take a picture of it to print out at home. Attach the photo to a jar that they will be saving their money in and keep a running tab of how close they are getting to their goal. When the goal is reached, take the child back to get the item.
They have now learned that it is possible to save and be patient rather than having to obtain the item they want immediately. Delayed gratification is usually more enjoyable than that which comes for free and it also instills a sense of pride within the child. They will treasure the item when they have had to put forth some work to obtain it and that usually leads to the item lasting longer since they will take better care of it.
In the long run, this child will grow to live with less stress as they will be less likely to become indebted beyond their means. They will understand how to wait and how to save for the things that they want, rather than having to have it today at any cost. Usually, that cost is very high after interest and loan fees are paid when adult items are being considered that will cost far more than a toy. Teaching your child how to save is a true gift that will last them a lifetime…longer than anything they may want at the local shopping center!