happy children in car

Careful the Kids are Watching: Raising Financially Responsible Kids

If you speak English in your home, your kids are not likely to come out speaking Italian. Kids learn through observation and imitation. And they don’t miss a thing. Their parents’ lives shape children from the very beginning of life. They are ever-attentive witnesses of grown-up behaviors. Children take their cues from what they see and hear.

happy children in car


Want your kids to grow up with healthy attitudes about money? Start living the way you want them to become. Let them regularly catch you in the act of living financially responsible lives, and you’ll be on your way to raising financially responsible kids.

It’s all about the cash

I recently ran across “10 Ways Warren Buffett’s Frugal Habits Can Save You Money.” Number 9 on the list? He uses cash, not credit. While most of us these days prefer the convenience of a credit card for everyday purchases, Buffett uses hard cash. You should too. For kids and adults alike, cash is real, plastic is just a stand-in for the real thing. It’s human nature to be more casual, even reckless, with plastic; more cautious when having to peel off $20 bills to pay the tab.

Cash might sound old school, but relying less on your credit card can stop you from spending money you don’t have. And looking like Warren Buffet isn’t a bad thing.

20 ways to model healthy money attitudes

You cannot start modeling healthy money attitudes for your kids too early. Here are 20 ways you can start right now to raise financially responsible kids, even if they are still toddlers:


Let them observe that you have money and take good care of it.
  2. Let them see you use money as a regular and normal part of life.
  3. Make sure they catch you being generous with others and sharing what you have.
  4. Tell your kids stories about how you have made do with what you have, choosing instead to save, not spend.
  5. Allow them to see you deposit money in the bank.
  6. Let them see the way you pay for groceries with cash.
  7. Teach them that money is essential in our lives because we can exchange it for things we need and want.
  8. Talk about money as casually as you talk about other things like sports and laundry.
  9. Use coins to teach your preschoolers to count. It’s practical and acknowledges their curiosity about money.
  10. Talk about the different shapes and colors of items in the store. It gives little ones something to do instead of wanting everything they see.
  11. While a passenger in the grocery cart, allow your little one to hold the coupons or the list. Talk about finding the best value.
  12. Say, “We don’t choose to spend our money that way” more often than you say, “We can’t afford it.”
  13. Remember, preschoolers are listening and learning from everything they see you do and hear you say.
  14. Use coins to teach the different denominations. Three and four-year-olds can learn to put all the pennies into one cup, the nickels into another, and so on.
  15. Visit the library and park with your preschooler more often than at the market or mall.
  16. Give rewards of hugs and praise-not money. Creating the expectation of cash payment at every turn is a habit you’ll regret in adolescence.
  17. Monitor television time and opt for non-commercial viewing and videotapes when possible.
  18. Let preschoolers participate in household chores to enjoy the security of belonging—not only to get paid.
  19. Intervene between advertisers and your kids. Preschoolers can’t always tell when the television show ends and the ad begins.
  20. Make sure your children grow up knowing that all good things are a blessing from God.



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