I have a list of things I want my seven-year-old daughter to learn before she leaves the nest.
- Swimming-Right now, she swims backstroke and breaststroke pretty well, but still, she struggles with freestyle. We’ve done 4 different sets of lessons and will probably do another set next year.
- Reading-She’s an outstanding reader for her grade level but doesn’t love it yet in the way her bookworm parents want.
- Cooking-Little Bit has some rudimentary cooking skills. I have 10 years to teach her to make healthy delicious food at home so that she’s less tempted by convenience foods when she’s on her own.
- Managing Money-I don’t want her to go off to college and run up credit card debt like I did. She needs to know how to save money and prioritize her wants and needs so she avoids unnecessary debt and maximizes the utility of each dollar.
So this summer when my daughter set a big goal for her money, I got really excited. Here was a great opportunity to teach my kid to be a successful saver.
My Future YouTuber
For well over a year, my daughter has said that she wants to be YouTuber.
For years, Jon and I have listened to her practicing her video spiel, narrating her life as she rides in the car or takes her bath at night.
Every time Little Bit got a new toy, she’d explain to her “viewers” on “the channel” what she was getting and what she thought about it. On each vacation and outing, she’d explain where she was going and what things she looked forward to doing.
This May, Little Bit started getting a little more serious about her video-making. She asked for a laptop.
I told her she could get one, but she’d have to pay for half of it. That would mean that for several months, she’d have to save all of her spending money and resist the temptation to spend on dollar store impulse buys, Icees at the movies, or other treats and toys.
She agreed. After doing a little research, I picked out a $350 Acer. That meant, she’d have to come up with $175, a good stretch goal for a second grader.
Little Bit’s Allowance
Little Bit gets a base allowance each week of $6.
Of that, fifty cents has to go to her savings account “for college.” Fifty cents has to go to a giveaway jar for the charitable cause of her choice. Five dollars is hers to spend.
However, as a savings incentive, the Bank of Mom offers interest. If Little Bit spends nothing for an entire week, then her allowance goes up by a quarter a day. Twenty-five cents worth of Mom interest must go to either her savings account or her giveaway jar, and the rest can go to spending money.
It’s a pretty good incentive to walk away from spending on frivolous stuff. If she spends on a dollar store treat or candy, she’s giving up a $1.50 from the next allowance. Most of the time, that’s enough to give her pause.
In addition, Little Bit can redeem any gift cards she receives for birthdays or Christmas to the Bank of Mom at a dollar for dollar rate. I also have a few extra chores she can do for money, and if I need her help on a Swagbucks survey, I’ll split the payout with her.
Even with a couple of boosts from gift cards, Little Bit would have to save for months in order to get the money together for her laptop. That meant some self-discipline and encouragement from her parents. We’d help her save, but we wouldn’t give her the extra funds.
How Jon and I Helped
Now, understand, my kid is not a natural saver. Her inclination is to want stuff and buy…unless she has a savings goal. Once she sets a goal, though, whether it be a $40 CleverKeet or a $100 animatronic unicorn, she finds it a lot easier to ignore her impulse buys.
So Jon and I framed the computer and the amount as a goal. Once we did that, whenever she asked if she could have some treat, we used that opportunity to explain what she was giving up.
“You want a $15 stuffed animal? That means waiting an extra 3 weeks for your laptop. Is that what you want to do?”
Occasionally, the answer was still “Yes.” More often than not, though, when confronted with an extra week or two of saving, she reconsidered and said no.
The other thing we did was to reduce her temptation. If we needed to make a quick jaunt to Target or Walmart, we made a point to avoid the toy aisle. When I worked at the school store, she’d head off to class so she wouldn’t get entranced by the spy pens and scented erasers.
Each week after she got paid, we’d count her money together. I would tell her how many weeks she had left. She started taking coding lessons at school and watched her favorite YouTube channels obsessively.
Friday we counted up her money. Her cash stash totaled $178.
The last time she had spent some of her own money was August.
She handed me the money, and I went to my computer and ordered hers. On Sunday, she got her shiny new Acer.
I’ve set it up with anti-virus, video and photo editing software, and all her favorite websites. She’s practicing her narration skills and recording her videos…and setting her next savings goal.
I am so proud.
How have you taught your kid to be a successful saver? Any YouTube or video making resource hints?