Of talking about money, saving, needs, etc. with your child…is it too early?

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*Terribly hotch-potch, incoherent thoughts being scribbled, more like an introspection than anything else*

This is something I have been asking myself for quite sometime now. I’m at a stage of parenting where I am unable to decide how appropriate it is to talk about money to my 6year old kid. Is it too early or just the right time or am I late already in instilling the importance of the ‘M’ word to my child?

Of course, like any parent, I want my child to understand the value of money. I want her to know that she need not get all that she asks for. Every little trip to the toy store or book store or any shop for that matter need not mean that she gets to pick up any thing and bring it home. Sometimes she may have to earn to get what she wants. Which is why we have started playing this li’l game lately, where every time she does something good- eg. eat her meals on time, sleep on time, finish her homework, treat people around her well, clean up her room, etc. etc.- she gets to earn a point- each point valued at one riyal- that she has to note down in a book. And at the end of the month based on the number of points, she earns riyals which she can use to buy anything that she wants.

I cant claim this game a success yet, though, for there still are days when those trips to the toy store and grocery store end up in a massive tantrum-throwing and ‘nobody-loves-me’ session because, “Amma didn’t buy the kitchen set” or “Papa didnt get the chocolates I liked”. Yes there are days when she goes on a rampant ‘lets buy this dress’, ‘I want that shoe’, ‘I want this’, ‘I want that’ spree and I explain to her about how all those things require a lot of money and that she needs to learn to be happy with what she has.

There are times when she finds something interesting at a friend’s house or in a TV show and asks for a similar one for herself and I end up denying her mostly because I know it is just a momentary fascination that she will not fancy for long, and eventually will dump it inside her toy-chest never to be taken out.

And at other times when I deny her, I tell her that it is expensive which her Amma and Papa cannot buy for her.

Whenever I see her disregarding her toys and her other possessions, I have found myself drilling into my child, the need to give due importance to money, the importance of learning to understand the genuine need to have something before demanding for it and learn to forgo the things that she doesn’t need because her parents are working really hard to bring in the money and manage it so she can get what she wants. So its only natural that she is thoughtful enough to consider all of that.

The other day her constant fiddling with the TV had me chide her for rough-handling something that was very expensive and how we cant afford a costly repair on it, so she had to be more cautious and less clumsy.

Such conversations with her have resulted, I observe, in her going through a change in the way she approaches us and things around her in general.

Now, when something catches her fancy, instead of jumping around with excitement at the prospect of buying it, she merely asks us, ‘can we buy this Amma, does it cost a lot?’ or ‘I wish the doll house wasnt so expensive!’

Thats when I sense her holding herself back and wonder if I am being a little too harsh on her by pushing her to grown up too fast, if I am denying her the little pleasures way too soon..

On another occasion, at a family gathering in a restaurant, Namnam dropped a soup bowl on the floor leading her to a nervous query, ‘Amma, will I have to pay for this bowl?’

When I see her running around the toy store looking for that perfect toy and settling in for the next best because- in her own words- ‘it costs so much!’, I feel a tinge of guilt seep into me! I feel immensely overwhelmed at seeing her growing up so fast so soon! Does she have to grow up so soon?

I do want her to learn about saving, to prioritize her needs, to value money, to manage finances. And I know life will teach her all of that. But is it really the time to introduce her to that phase? Am I going overboard? Would I rather let her be? God am I crazy?

I really dont know what is the right thing to do here…

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58 thoughts on “Of talking about money, saving, needs, etc. with your child…is it too early?

  1. I totally totally understand what you are going through. I tried doing the same thing and when the boy started holding back and asking the price of every single thing, I got a bit worried. And then I did the mistake of handing out the job to the husband….sigh! now the boy talks about money in stock market terms and tries to convert all the little earnings he gets into bonds, so that he can save forever :mad: :roll:

      • arey how can that be smart? He saves his money and gives me that sad look when he needs something and tells “it’s more important to save money so I think I will skip buying it”. and in this hormonal state sometimes I give in and then realize he made a fool out of me. But I must say one thing about the boy, he never ever throws tantrums for anything and can wait patiently for years to get something he badly wants (and that is not something he got from me for sure) :smile:

        • Thats wonderful to know! Shows how well you and Mr B are bringing him up. Hugs! And now once the twins have come, he will be even more of a darling of a son to you, just you see :). God bless :)

        • Oh, I have to agree with Saks. Her boy is an angel. He let Saks and me talk for a few hours, despite having nothing to do. Not even a whiff of a tantrum. And then he busied himself with some DVD/PS3 when he was given one. I remember admiring him even then. How did you do this Saks.

  2. Deeps,

    This si something that bothers me a lot as well. but I am pretty downright honest with R. I tell her we dont have money to buy it

    R: Toh money leke aao na
    RM: but money we will get only if we work na..thats why amma appa go to office
    R: Toh aapke teacher ko bolo to give more money
    RM: !!!

    yep, thats how the brat wants more money. But as of now R is at a stage she knows that a no means no…when she grows older, I am not sure how I am going to handle it!

    • Hahaha, she must be such a joy to talk to! I wish kids would never grow out of their innocence and charm! Oh she will be fine, RM! You’re raising her very well and grounded! Dont you worry :)

  3. Can understand your dilemma! It’s a tricky situation!! But it’s important for the child to understand the value of money and importance of things he/she has/wants. But let me tell you that this is an age related child development phase! It passes with age, have seen it with Aaryan and his cousin. Yes, the values have to be instilled NOW!!

    • I feel a lot better to read your advice Shilpa. Just hope that she imbibes the right values and learns to gauge her needs while enjoying her childhood all the same :)

  4. hmm well i dont think age shud be a concern to tell or teach or inform the importance of money, yes it is difficult to explain a child .. and from childs perspective too we have to understand if her friend has something WHY cant she..

    I am sure you will be fine, I would be honest and tell the kid how it is , truth is harsh but its the best way to go about it …

    also you may want to think what you promise her too, most parents i have seen promise the world to the child but cant deliver , which again confuses the kids

    Parenting is difficult :) all the best You will be fine .. take care

    • Thats exactly what I want her to know and try to make her understand that not always does she need what her friends have. It does get a bit difficult, but then she tones down on her own when she notices that her persistence and tantrums are being ignored :D

  5. It is indeed a very important life lesson and I think you are doing it just right Deeps. I can totally understand the dilemma because at Nam-nam’s age kids tend to take things literally and sometimes saying no pinches our heart more than it hurts our pocket :(
    I guess, it’s going to be tough in the start but soon things should fall in place :)
    I like the game of rewarding her with points so that she gets to learn to manage her reward points well.
    Hugs dear :)

    • Exactly, ME! It really breaks my heart when I say no to her and even more so when she takes the cue and accepts my say. That makes wonder if I’m pushing her way too soon to grow up :(

      Thank you for understanding! Hugs to you too :)

  6. I liked the game that you asked your kid to be involved in… This way, she would be able to know how you can get your coveted luxuries with pennies. In addition, she will enjoy learning good habits this way.

  7. Great narration which makes one really think. The little girl looks so sweet and innocent. I think personal example of parents is a good way as children love to emulate.
    Regards & cheers :)

  8. In general I have not reall let Hriday know about the money part too much… but yes sometimes I have told him its too expensive I can’t get it for you right now…

    That apart from the beginning thanks to him moving with my parents they have always periodically denied buying things for him visiting shops coz he shouldn’t get into a habit that he must buy coz he went into a shop… I guess my parents helped a lot in that sense…

    But I think its completely ok sometimes to takl to kids just like thy aer adults and tell them the facts… !

    • That’s precisely what R says too, you know..to treat children like adults where needed and make them aware of the practicality of life :).

      Its great to know that Hriday is growing up in such a wonderful environment with the right kind of values and teachings from his parents and grandparents. They’ll go a long way in making a fine young man out of him! :)

  9. Its tricky rt…. there is no correct ans to this I guess! Maybe indulging her pnce ina while with a gift tht she thinks is beyond what u can afford! So tht she doesnt always think of the pinch of money.. u think it works?

    • We do indulge her with costly gifts on certain occasions like her bday and such, but sometimes we feel the need to regulate her demands so she can truly understand the difference between ‘need’ and ‘want’ :)

  10. I think what you are doing makes perfect sense. She will truly understand the value of things this way. I do the same too. She used to buy what she wants from the money in her piggy bank. I also explained to her how if she waits for the money to build up, she could buy something really cool. So once, she waited until she had £17 and bought a set of books that she had been hankering after. I think it gave her a sense of achievement, and a sense of keeping aside money for something that she really wants. Also, when we explain things this way, I think they understand better. They have a reason why we are saying no to a particular thing.

    Another thing I follow is, throw a tantrum and demand, you can rest assured that you are not getting that thing :) I have been following this since she was really little.

    I think what you are doing is wonderful Deeps, Namnam will grow up to be a wonderfully balanced person with all the thought you give to bring her up. Hugs!!

    • I am so relieved when I see parents like you who refuse to give in to their kid’s tantrums. Used to have a really tough time with son and people around used to give me dirty looks when they see a horrible mother who let her son roll on the floor and cry out loud. Guess it paid out in the long run, when Naomi started throwing tantrums, he told her once, “in this house you are not going to get anything by crying” :P

    • Smits, I love the way you have instilled the value and importance of money and saving in Poohikutty. Namnam is yet to understand the concept of piggy bank, probably because I didnt make her understand its use myself fully well, reason being the same- I wasnt sure how ready she was. But this li’l game of ours seems to have taken off well, so I guess I should introduce the bank to her :).

      Oh the tantrums are quite strongly dealt with in our household too!

      Hugs!

  11. I think what you’re doing makes perfect sense. There is no right age to teach a child about money but the sooner the better and the simpler the better! I definitely would support your decision of not buying her whatever she wants and also letting her know a valid reason why! Big A is now getting pocket money and if he wants something, he must buy it himself. That really makes him think and be conservative because it is his hard-earned money (he does specific chores to earn). We do give him a big treat for Diwali, Christmas and his birthday and I think that should be more than enough for any kid!!

    • I agree, Roshni…pocket money can go a long way in letting kids cultivate the habit of saving and valuing money. I’m sure Big A is grasping this lesson and learning to handle money well :)

  12. Deeps, you are doing the right thing. And yes, I know the feeling when we start wondering whether we are overdoing it. Once in a busy supermarket, son asked his father loudly whether he had enough money for a packet of biscuits, he acted as though it was someone else’s kid :D

    D: Hahaha!

    We have a rule, that they get one small chocolate or a pack of juice when we go shopping. The other thing that we tell our son is to tell us whether he ‘needs’ something or he ‘wants’ it. He comes up with all the reasons in the world to make it a ‘need’ but he has got the point. It is a different matter that he still asks for an iPad 3 for his birthday even though he knos he’s not going to get it. Peer pressure is getting stronger as they grow up and we have to think of more innovative ways.

    D: Absolutely agree, Bindu! It is very important for kids to learn to differentiate between ‘need’ and ‘want’ especially in today’s world of cut-throat peer pressure. I love the way how you make sure your kids learn the difference and understand their needs :)

    In the long run, it is always better to be honest than to be sorry later. Whenever I am in a quandary like this, what I think of is the way we were brought up and how we turned out more or less ok ;-)

    The only thing that you can do is bring them up in the way that we think is right and pray tight, the options and temptations are so much for this generation, we have teach them to draw the line somewhere.

    D: Cant agree with you more!

    Daughter is ok till now on the money part, but she is a tantrum queen when she wants to get her way , the fact she gets ignored or punished is besides the point for her :D
    Huge hugs to Num and her mother :-)

    D: Aww thank you Bindu! Tight hugs back to you too :)

  13. I can certainly understand what you are going through Deeps and I dont find anything wrong in talking to kids about money !!! Yes, the guilt feeling that the child is growing up too fast will always be there…but its better than tantrums to buy things ASAP.

    This stage actually continues into the teens, if not explained properly at this young age. And in the teens, there are no needs only wants !!! I am going through it – the elder one is more responsible, thinks a lot even before buying a pack of juice or some snack, when she is really hungry. The younger one demands things to be done. Slowly she is getting into the grind. Now, that the younger one is in the 10th, I give her weekly money to buy things she wants and that she needs to account for every penny. So, now she is learning to balance her expenses, so that it lasts for the whole week. She also saves the money which people gift her and never spends a penny from that. ;)

    D: Its wonderful to know how wise and responsible your daughters are learning to be in money matters, Uma!

    As Bindu says, peer pressure is another culprit for this problem !!!

    D: Totally agree!

    I’ve also felt the trickle of guilt down my spine, when my girls look at the price tag before they see a dress !!! What to do, in these growing up years, its not worth investing in a dress, when they’ll outgrow it very soon !!!

    D: I can understand :)

    Too many issues stacked up before the parents…lets deal one at a time :)

    Hugs Deeps, Namnam will do well !!!

    D: Hugs, Uma! I hope and pray she does :)

  14. I was initially doubtful myself whether 6 years is ok. But then looking back at my own childhood, the story was not very different. When I was 4-5 years old, I wanted every Barbie toy available… I had this whole fascination for it. My cousin bro had a similar fascination for G.I.Joe toys. While he was generally on the careful side about collecting and maintaining them, I was not. I often broke dolls’ hands/legs and left them lying carelessly where people would step on them.

    My mother put her foot down and said enough is enough. They began to impose rules saying only one more of this variety, and you have to use it, instead of buying it from momentary indulgence. At that point I was annoyed.

    But in retrospect, now I realize they were right. Unless they taught me what is possible vs what is not, how would I know? There are limits to indulging kids.

    D: Absolutely agree! It is very important that kids learn to understand their limits for their own good. The earlier the better I guess! :)

    One of my cousins has made a practice of giving a piggy bank to her 4 year old son … to put the money safely in there that he gets for Onam, Vishu or his bday etc. or even his pocket money every week, and then go buy something once there is a larger amount in there. :)

    D: Thats a very good practice. I think I should practice the same with Namnam and make her understand the concept of piggy bank too :)

  15. Thank you for visiting my blog and the kind words :)

    About teaching the value of money, I’m trying to figure working with complete opposites. My son is like a sponge, absorbing every value taught. He loves cashews, and I keep telling him he can’t have it all the time. Once at the grocery, he picked up a $2.99 cashew pkt and asks me in a whisper,” do we have $2.99 ?” I nod my head and he still asks, “so can we get this?” Can’t imagine how anyone can say No to that :) While his little sister chooses to run across the store in a mall and picks out like a dozen things in “Hello Kitties” and “Dora’s” and wails her head off if she even imagines I’m going to say No.
    Thankfully, I remember to take a deep breath, engage her in conversation, spend all the time it takes and get her to let go. My biggest problem is Dad chooses to overcome this situation by offering a bribe. Its either time or bribe – both are responses to their cry basically for, attention. Dad finally understood this and we’re over that stage now. With her getting closer to being 5, I’ve started telling her how many kids don’t have enough toys or dresses and food even. Living in the US, they never see people not having, so it’ll take a while. Oh! also I’ve migrated to shopping online so we cut down a LOT on shopping time and use those hours for play instead :)

    • Hahaha, trust our kids to put us in a spot! I love the way you handle trying situations with your kids. As parents we do the best we can at any given situation, isnt it? Thats the least we can do to ensure our kids grow up just fine :)

      Switching to online shopping is a smart way to escape the tantrums I must say :D. Welcome here, MomWithaDot :)

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  17. I am VERY with you on this – like it much. I was taught nothing about money – nil. All I knew was work/get money/pay out… work/get money/pay out. I never planned for my future, & as it is now, I live in a flat with my 16 1/2 yo son. I want him to grasp the concept of saving, EARNING, valuing. Money is something you do need to discuss, & not regard as ‘an evil’. There is the saying ‘Money is the root of all evil’, & then there is the saying ‘LACK OF money is the root of all evil’ ! I like both.

    It’s great you’re talking money with your daughter. I remember my yoga teacher saying ‘money is grace’. It is to be passed on, & it represents appreciation, valuing, and hopefully never in your life ‘power’. Money is necessary, simply.

    • Thank you for dropping by and sharing your thoughts, WordsFallFromEyes. Welcome here :). I’m sure you’re teaching the right values to your son too. Best wishes to both of you..

  18. Absolutely not. You have brought up your child well, in the world of children who do not know the value of money. Children who value the money today, when they grow up tend to look up to their parents and realize – my mom GREW me up well!

    I cite from how I was grown up, how I owe my financial stability and savings to my parents upbringing. Not that I dont spend at all – I dont throw away money – thats SO impossible in todays children (my uncles children whom I see.. they need to go to resto TODAY, they need the toy NOW, is putting up with children tantrums a way of escaping them?)

    //Now, when something catches her fancy, instead of jumping around with excitement at the prospect of buying it, she merely asks us, ‘can we buy this Amma, does it cost a lot?’ or ‘I wish the doll house wasnt so expensive!’//

    You should be proud. You say, yes the doll house is expensive, but once in a year surprise her – buy her that doll house – make her feel HAPPY. Waiting for the gift and getting it – Ah pricessless!

    Do stop by my blog!! I’d love your visits & comments!

    • Its wonderful to know how well your parents have brought you up and how much you appreciate them for that! Wish ever child would grow up as grounded.

      Thank you for dropping by! Welcome here :) Will certainly hop by your blog :)

  19. I’ve had a very similar upbringing. However, I think passing on these values to your children in this day and age is a task. We hardly had some of the evil influences that exist today. You’re doing well.

    • Agree, Pepper, it is quite a task to instill values in today’s children, especially when there are far more external forces present today, to influence their thinking than there were yesterday.

      The way I see it, like I mentioned to one of the commenters above, is that I do the best I can in a given situation, or at least try my best. As parents, its the least we can do, isnt it, to make sure we pass on the right message and teachings to them to let them grow just fine? :)

  20. Parents are Parmatma – God- for children. Being God is never, and can not be, easy ! My suggestion/ guess is as good as yours. No one really knows what is good parenting for sure !

  21. Di, I guess most of us are going thru a similar phase…judging the right time is really difficult…I call this the “Kim Kartavya Vimood’ period. :) Gayathri teacher wud hav definitely patted on my back for remembering that one correctly…:

  22. Like most of them have said above already, the external factors matter a lot these days. In our age and times Deeps, mostly all children were on the same page, families on the same levels and almost no options to celebrate childhood other than basic toys and pretty dresses!

    But we have to put our age and times behind cause they are a thing of past,sadly! However, most of us come have the same kind of upbringing we all agree on the learning to save, value money and not being extravagant about everything that is available on the shelf, hence want to inculcate the same in our children.

    Like you, even I tend to think how will I say ‘no’ to Chirpy when I’ll have to say it? Is denying something to your child fair to the child? Did she ask us to bring her into the world? It was us who brought her..it is us who want her to grow independent and taker her own decisions….and now when she wants to live her life like she wants, we are circling it with our set of rules and values….these thoughts…come to my mind often when I see the certain price tags, certain ways of life these days…these hypothetical situations of today are not very far for me to become reality!

    Sharing a conversation I had with a friend sometime back: She has a 5 year old son. On discussing on the same lines, she exemplified her style of tackling money matters with her little boy.Her son too wanted a huge “extravagant” b’day party like his classmates’ parents threw in a hotel. Now here my friend didn’t want to bring in money part per say but still wanted to say no to his ‘want’. She sat him down and explained thus: “We sure want your b’day to be grand and gala.Just for a moment consider that we are arranging your b’day party at home, where all your friends can feel at home,be themselves, party hard, can be carefree, and stay as long as they want & have fun playing with your toys,eat popcorn while watching a cartoon film and play some games like musical chairs etc…we can also think about having a day long b’day party on a Sunday if you like it….don’t you think it will be far more fun than arranging a party in the hotel,putting in more than required money in exchange of wrapping the party in stipulated time and where you and your friends will have to be too good ;) ?”

    Her son liked the idea and agreed. In fact ‘at home’ b’day party was super fun too!

    I liked the way she handled the situation without bringing in the money part really yet subtly telling him the difference. But this was just one kind of situation. How far such tricks would last is a question in itself. How far we parents might be able to pull on is another question.

    That said, it’s not always about if we can afford the wants..there are lot of things which we can afford but do we really need to buy them because we have money? It’s about teaching the basic difference about the need and want…I think that’s more important and maybe the money part will automatically fall in line? Again, I’m just assuming things to be that simpler because I’m still to get into your shoes!

    Just last week I had to buy a potty pot for Chirpy now that it’s time to potty train her. So I was amused to see more than 10 options for a simple potty pot! With different shapes, colors, attributes like music, wheels etc to choose from. The simple potty costs Rs. 500 and the other “higher” versions of it cost anywhere between Rs. 1200 to Rs. 2000!!!! Honestly, for a moment I almost bought the Rs. 1500 potty cause it was a duck shape musical potty and it looked cute! But then I revisited my decision…thought whether Chirpy really needs a musical duck shaped potty to shit in? Does she really know these options exist? Do I really have to spend Rs. 1000 more to potty train her? Will she be better potty trained if I buy her that cute thing instead of simple looking pot? Of course I spent Rs. 500 only!

    This above example says a lot about my thought process too…there are times when we parents too think a little beyond necessary. “What we could not have or did not have our children should” philosophy takes us down and that is the start of the inculcation of “better options” and “all things beautiful in life are must” seeds and we only do it to them…and then when they grow up the other factors are ready to influence them too when we come running and try to guard!

    Of course this is a generalization…not all parents get shaky, like me, when they see cute things…but I confess I have to be shaken sometimes to realize the difference between what my child needs and what she ‘could’ want!

    P.S. I don’t know what all I blurted out here …I always tend to eat your space with my blah blah Deeps, but can’t help..your posts are wonderfully thought provoking and hence result in long comments from me :)

    P.P.S. I’ve copy pasted the same comment with little tweaks on my blog, as a post :) just so you know!

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  24. I think you are doing just fine. I see myself in your parenting methods. Since our kids are not lacking anything, it is but natural for us to try to teach them about the value of money and wastage. Do we go overboard at times? Even I wonder the same.

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