Teaching kids fiscal responsibility is a foreign language to me. It seems like it's a really fine line to teach them that money is important and we all need it, but not to treat it like an idol or let money matters consume you. I feel like it would be as easy to become money-obsessed in the name of fiscal responsibility as much as it is to be so in the name of greed.
We haven't done a whole lot to teach our kids about money at home, but we have been pretty good when on vacation. Our last big vacation was at Disneyland, home to consumerism at its best. To combat the obnoxiousness that comes with seeing, then wanting everything in sight, in the months leading up to our trip, we had Tyler save change to be used as his spending money.
We got our boy a wallet and gave him $30 from the change jar - $10 for each day we were there. Once we got to the park, the very first thing we did was take him over to the "Bank" so he could get Disney Dollars. Seeing the pride on his face while he exchanged his money was awesome, though at first he was confused as to why this guy was taking his money.
Ultimately, at nearly 5, he was more interested in rides and characters than treats and toys (thank God) and he never really spent any of his money. Instead on the last day
I he bought a bazillion piece Disney-themed Mr. Potato Head set which is still a favorite of grownups and kids at our house, so good spending!
How is this relevant to now? Both Tyler and Lily are old enough to understand and somewhat appreciate the value of a dollar and what it takes to earn a dollar. We told them that for our next Disneyland trip (whenever that is) that they would be responsible for earning the money for their own tickets. That is $200 per kid to pay for a 3 day ticket and be able to tithe or donate some of it to charity or a missionary at church.
(Imagine how thrilled I was when Lily asked me, "Mom, how old will I be when we have enough money to go to Disneyland?" Thank God the kids don't think they will be able to do this overnight! She will be six in October; I told her not to be surprised if she was 7 or 8 when we went.)
The kids have come up with some great money earning strategies. In addition to the classics - a lemonade stand and allowance - they have decided to have a "Project" (craft) sale, a talent show, and house sit while our friends and neighbors are on vacation. A friend suggested collecting cans and that one is the top favorite for now (because it's the easiest perhaps?).
This is actually further fruit of Aaron's job challenges - if he got that perfect job right away we likely would have gone of vacation as planned and done nothing more than give the kids their daily stipend. Not having the extra money to spend requires us to think outside the box and gives us an opportunity to teach the kids about hard work, saving, giving and then enjoying the fruits of their labor.
I think this is going to be a great lesson for all of us.