Generosity is one of the best ways to gain a proper and balanced attitude towards money. Honoring God with first fruits, not just as a habit, but also as a way of showing gratitude, will help your children understand that all things come from God. So every time they earn an allowance teach them to set aside a portion for the Lord. Maybe there is a special project in your church they would enjoy giving to, or a family in need?
Teaching children, even as young as four to six years old, to work for their allowance is a great way to teach them a good work ethic and to have an appreciation for the money they’ve earned. Access to “easy money” may prevent them from learning this valuable lesson. We chose to teach our boys that certain responsibilities like cleaning their room, making their beds and clearing dishes from the table after dinner are just part daily life. If they want to earn money there are specific jobs outside of the regular “life routine” they can do. Create your own “job” list, name the price for each job and let them enjoy earning the money.
This is your opportunity to help them learn delayed gratification. Label three jars as Give, Save, Spend. Every time allowance is earned or birthday money is received, teach them to save a portion of that income. Savings can be used to purchase bigger items they really want but require a much larger sum of money. It can also be used for teaching investment principles.
This is a hard one—allowing your children to make decisions with their earned money. This is only half the battle. You must also allow them to experience the consequences of bad financial decisions. No bailouts allowed! If your child wants to spend their money on a silly toy just because they have to have something now, let them, but also teach them that the toy they really wanted can’t be bought until they save for it. This is the only way to help them understand that in life we make choices, and those choices have real consequences.
Self-control is a daily battle, but it can be won, if you are consistent. The key is to recognize early on your child’s natural tendencies. Imagine how different our nation would look today if all of us lived out the principle of delayed gratification.