At the rate I was spoiling my son with toys and games I would have to get several more jobs, because I was slowly going broke. That’s when it occurred to me that I wasn’t really teaching my then 5-year-old the value of a dollar. I decided to put my foot down and make him pay for the things he wanted on his own. This quickly changed his mind about getting toys and games. He started saving his money and thinking carefully about how to spend it. If you’re trying to get your child to save, maybe my experience will help you out.
The Piggy Bank
Although my son already owned several piggy banks, he didn’t bother to use them. They would just sit in his room and gather dust. Instead of investing in yet another sitting statue, I decided to turn a large, empty protein powder container into a piggy bank. After washing the container, I cut a slit in the lid and removed the label that was on it. With a marker I wrote “Savings” on it. I then gave my son some money to put in the piggy bank to get the ball rolling. He was very excited about the piggy bank and his new mission was to fill it up as fast as he could.
His motivation to fill his piggy bank quickly had him offering me to do chores. At 5 years old there was only so much he could do, but taking out the trash, and getting the mail worked in his favor, as did doing his best in school. Of course after showing his grandparents his new piggy bank, they donated to the cause, and slowly but surely the money started piling up and the smile on my son’s face got bigger and bigger.
The Debit Card
Rather than keeping all his money in the protein container/piggy bank, we decided to put some of it on a debit card. This would be his own card to use for purchases that he wanted to make; his spending money. Each time he wanted to buy a toy, he would carefully think about it, because he knew it would come out of his own money. If he decided to go ahead with the purchase, I would hand him his card at the register. He would swipe it and enter his pin number. Later at home, I would log into his account and show him his balance so he would realize that it was getting less.
Although my son is still quite spoiled, when he wants something that he can really do without, I give him the option to buy it with his own money. This often makes him change his mind, because I tell him to ask himself if it’s really a good investment. When he gets money from chores or gifts, he splits it up and puts one-third on the card and two-thirds in his piggybank. I also use the money in his piggybank to teach him about the different bills and coins, and right now, he’s really into counting how much he has saved.