My sister’s 3-year old son has a passion for toy ambulances. He just loves opening up a new toy ambulance, switching it on and listening to the siren as it moves across the floor. Every time we go to the supermarket, he naturally wants a new toy ambulance, especially when we’re at the toy section. He gets very passionate in his requests to look at them. And if we give in and look at them, he will immediately find one that he cannot live without. He goes as far as throwing a tantrum until he gets one.

4 tips on child savers

I am sure this is a familiar story to anyone who has young children. When they’re little, they do not understand the concept of money. They believe that people go to the supermarket, pick out the items they need, pass by the counter to pack them into paper bags and go home. Unfortunately, almost everything costs money presently. We’re way past the age where we could buy items on credit and pay at the end of the month. In fact, if you take items on credit and don’t honor your promise to pay, you’ll get the police or auctioneers on your back. This is one of the reasons why childhood is the best time for parents to start teaching their children about the important role that money plays in the world. Hence, why I gave the example above.

Children understand concepts best when they’re dealing with things they can touch. Sometimes we will buy items using credit cards, online, using loyalty cards, etc. To children, this may not appear as a realistic way because they will not see you handing cash to the cashier to pay for your items. They’re too young to understand such abstract methods of payment at that time. Therefore, teach them how to handle money in a physical way. Here are tips on how you can teach your kids to spend or save money:

  1. Introduce a Jar Savings System
    Teach them to save through jars. Have jars, labelled with their names and words like ‘spend’, ‘give’, ‘save’, and ‘invest’. You can also label the jars with the name of the items for which they are saving. This way, they’ll learn how to save for specific needs, spend only what they can afford, give to charity, and learn how to invest.
     
  2. Give Your Child an Allowance/ Pocket Money
    Once a week, give your children small allowance. For example, give your 5-year old Kshs. 100 each week in Kshs. 10 denominations. When they receive this allowance, ensure that they place an equal number of Kshs. in each different jar to budget for the items they need, e.g. 10 lollipops, 5 kinderjoys, new toy car, etc. This kind of budget teaches them to limit their budgets because it includes items that they can see and hold in their hands and understand.
     
  3. Make Them Bring their Spending Money to the Supermarket
    When you go to the supermarket with your children, make them bring the amount they wish from their spending savings, and they pick out and pay for the items for which they have been saving. While purchasing their items, make them compare prices of similar items from different brands so they can purchase the ones with the best price that can allow them to save. Count the money that will pay for the items with them. If their money isn’t enough, talk to them about saving goals. Even if you top them up so they can get their items, ensure that they understand that they should only buy things they can afford.
     
  4. Teach by Example
    Make sure your children see you handing cash to the cashier and receive change in return. Also explain to them that you work hard to earn that money, which you use for basic needs, such as food, clothes and other family needs. This is a lesson that will stick because they see you physically handling money. Don’t just talk about money. Show them how money is used in a physical way.

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