Raising kids is never easy—especially when it comes to money. That’s why it’s important to start teaching them about money early on. My husband and I adopted a mindful approach to money, helping our children be more intentional about when to save and when to spend. Here are some of the ways we taught our kids to manage money, even at a young age.
Focus on the Family Unit
A mindful approach to money starts by recognizing one’s place within the family unit. When we gave our kids allowance, we discussed the understanding that our family had shared resources, which also came with certain responsibilities.
By doing so, we were emphasizing the importance of being a functioning member of the family, just as our kids would one day become functioning members of society.
Make it Visible
To help our kids understand the importance of contributing to our family, we created a chore chart. We didn’t assign dollar values to specific chores; otherwise, our kids would simply work the system and only select the high-paying jobs each week.
Instead, we kept a visible list of chores on the refrigerator and an ongoing tally of their accumulated allowance/savings. They knew their “bank account” balance at all times.
Keep it Practical
Here’s where the rubber of the mindful approach to money meets the road of reality. Having conversations with kids about spending can teach solid habits even at an early age.
When our kids saw something they wanted at the store, we would ask them questions like, “How much do you have in your allowance?” and “Is that something you want to spend money on?” If they weren’t sure, I let them think about it instead of simply making an impulse decision.
Emphasize the Value of Saving
According to the financial literacy advocate Mac Gardner, Americans “are programmed to consume at an early age.” In a famous experiment, he shows elementary school students a $100 bill and asks them how they might use it. Nine out of ten students would spend it.
A mindful approach to money confronts this impulse. We kept a money jar, though as savings grew bigger, we taught our kids the importance of keeping some of it in the bank.
Put Your Kids in Charge of Money
Put your kids in charge of their own spending. When our oldest daughter hit middle school, she wanted to wear designer clothes. We took the money we ordinarily spent on clothes and gave it to her in addition to her allowance. She was in charge of how to spend it.
She quickly learned that she could spend all of this money on clothes, but if she also wanted to have cash for other things, she’d have to make compromises or look for sales. Our daughter soon learned to prioritize the sales racks—showing how a mindful approach to money can make kids more resourceful.
Have Your Kids Participate in College Savings
According to a 2023 survey, one out of four high school students expect college to cost $5,000 per year. The actual cost is much higher, with tuition and fees reaching $10,662 for a public college and $42,162 for a private school for the 2023-2024 school year.
In our house, our kids started saving for college in high school. My husband and I offered a “matching contribution” arrangement. For every dollar our kids saved, we would contribute $2 toward their college fund.
They quickly realized that if they spent $5 on a drink, they were really losing $15 since they’d also be losing the $10 they could have received from our matching contribution.
A Mindful Approach to Money Can Last a Lifetime
Our kids are now grown and will soon be finished with college. But these lessons can last a lifetime and be passed on to their kids as well.
At Deerfield Financial Advisors, we believe every financial decision can be guided by similar principles. If you’d like a partner in making wise financial decisions, contact (317) 469-2455 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
Susie Steel is COO, Wealth Manager, and Senior Shareholder at Deerfield Financial Advisors, a fee-only financial services and wealth management firm with offices in Indianapolis and Chicago. With over three decades of experience in financial planning, Susie’s approach has always been rooted in a spirit of service, treating each client as an extension of her own family.
She simplifies the complex for clients, with the goal of creating a calm, trusting, and nurturing environment. Her unwavering commitment to the principle of “To whom much is given, much will be required” serves as the driving force behind her dedication, diligence, and empathy.
Susie obtained a business management degree from Ball State University, holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation, and held the Accredited Estate Planner (AEP®) designation from the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (NAEPC) from 2013 to 2018. Susie is actively involved with an extensive list of professional organizations, including NAPFA (The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors), a premier association of fee-only financial advisors, and has served on multiple boards, committees, and councils. Her consistent recognition as one of Indianapolis Monthly’s “Five Star Wealth Managers” for the past decade attests to her outstanding accomplishments (2009-2023).
Outside the professional realm, Susie gives back to her community through her involvement in the Financial Center First Credit Union (FCFCU) to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum Planned Giving Council and Kiwanis Club of Northwest Indianapolis to Junior Achievement. She mentors women through the CFP® Board’s “WIN-to-WIN” program, embodies the spirit of Rotary Club of Carmel, advocates for Indiana Canine Assistant Network (ICAN), and actively serves on the board of the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center (MRNC).
Susie and her husband, Kevin, reside in Carmel, Indiana, where they raised their three children. Outside the office, her focus centers around family, spirituality, and fostering meaningful connections. Embracing the concept of the body as a temple, her personal growth is nurtured through practices like strength training, yoga, and meditation. In her leisure time, she enjoys strolls with her dog, Lulu, and indulges in movies, podcasts, books, and the theater. To learn more about Susie, connect with her on LinkedIn.