Teaching your kids isn’t easy. Whether it’s table manners or why they shouldn’t lie, almost every moment can be a teachable moment at home.
And while you don’t want to hand over your checkbook to your children and have them pay the bills or compute your taxes, there are some ways to teach them about household finances that can help them learn to be responsible with money.
Here are four ways to teach your kids the value of a dollar:
Start an allowance: Anything that your child wants regularly can be a lesson in the cost of things, and setting them up with an allowance so they can buy books and other things is a way to get them thinking about how money is earned and how to decide what they should spend it on.
One rule of thumb is to pay a child $1 for every year of age, so a 7-year-old will earn $7 per week if they do all the chores required of them. Once they’ve worked for a while, it should help them think twice about purchases.
Clothing budget: Give your child a clothing budget at the start of the school year, and then take them out shopping. By weighing deals against expensive clothes that are in style, you can help them find clothes that are within the family budget.
Grocery shopping: Grocery shopping is relevant to a child’s daily life and is a task they can help with at the store. Comparison shop with them and have them figure out the cost of items by the ounce to see which is the better deal.
Travel: Vacations can be as expensive as you want them to be. When planning a family vacation, ask your children for their ideas and research those costs. A cab or Lyft ride from the airport to the hotel can be more expensive than a free hotel van ride or taking the subway. Point out the advantages and disadvantages of various parts of the trip, and let them help plan it.
The main money lesson for children and parents when going over household finances can be a simple one: We work to earn money so we can afford to live comfortably and do things we enjoy. It can make every monetary transaction a teachable moment for every member of the family.
Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist who specializes in personal finance topics.