How to Raise Kids to Make, Save, and Give Money

by | Jul 20, 2020

The PARADE Magazine has been a part of my Sunday newspaper reading for more years than I can remember. Tucked in the largest paper of the week with advertisements and the comics, it was my earliest introduction to many things cultural.

Started in 1941, PARADE magazine can be found in over 700 newspapers on most Sundays with an estimated readership of 54 million people. Older than I am, it is no wonder I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t part of the Sunday reading ritual.

The editors have trained me to watch for themed articles that repeat over the years like “What People Earn.” Last weekend the cover article was “First Jobs.”  That one caught my husband’s attention and, after a quick review, led to the comment “even stars and rich people started in the same place – with everyday jobs.”

And there we have the beginnings of a deeply embedded rags to riches culture of stories. We love such stories; they inspire and encourage us. We share them with our kids hoping to encourage them to work harder, especially since they can’t foresee what their future holds.

Rags to Riches from One Generation to the Next

Where I live there are only a small number of families that can tout more than four generations of wealth or affluence before the first-generation story of hard work and rags emerges.

For many families, affluence is only one or two generations deep. Dad worked hard starting the company, eventually selling it to create family wealth, or grandfather was a successful entrepreneur providing an opportunity for his children to gain college educations and professional careers.

Hope for the Next Generation – Less Rags, More Riches

Every generation hopes to raise their kids in better circumstances than their own. With that hope comes an important question.

It goes this way; how do I raise my kids to flourish in this land of wealth I or my family created – one that is foreign to my own childhood experiences? Here’s a different way to ask the same question, “how do I keep money from messing up my kids’ lives?”

Parents work hard to change life’s circumstances for their children, wanting them to have it better than they did, with greater opportunities and fully equipped to navigate life’s obstacles.

However, facing the challenge of raising children with resources and opportunities they did not experience is like raising children in a foreign land.

How to Go from Hope to Well-Grounded Children

  • Role-model the behaviors you want to see in your children. Examine your values and goals around money. Talk about money with your children. Be honest and open about how money impacted you and your goals – both the opportunities and the challenges you’ve faced.
  • Encourage your children to find their everyday job. Help them understand it is only the beginning of their journey with money. Encourage their independence and personal search for what will bring them joy.
  • Create a family environment that fosters questions and allows for storytelling around earning money. Share your stories, gather grandparent and other relatives’ stories, and listen to your children’s stories. Remember, this is the beginning of their money journey. How children tell their story will have much to do with forming their values, dreaming big dreams, and setting goals.
  • Include opportunities to learn along the way. Just as you might have taken special classes or attended seminars and workshops to get better at what you do, children benefit from varied ways to learn about money.

Focus on Three Themes: Making It, Saving It, Giving It Away

We learn as much from our earliest jobs, like the things we never want to do again or don’t pay enough, as we do from our adult jobs many years later.

Experiment with ways to teach saving from piggy banks to shoeboxes and first bank savings accounts.

Help your children with their earliest ideas of giving, planting seeds for a lifetime of generosity.

For as long as your children are learning about life – making money, saving money, giving it away – stand beside them and learn with them. It’s a life-long journey for them and should span your lifetime as well.

Give the wealth of your experience to your children, and they’ll do the same for your grandchildren. Model make it, save it and give it.

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1 Comment

  1. Gail McGlothin

    Teaching the value of work – in whatever form – builds stronger children and stronger adults. Giving is right up there beside honest labor. Thanks, Dawn.


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