Spending Habits Start Young

When I originally came to the brilliant understanding that the way a adult spends is an indication of the way they spent when they were young, I was thinking of myself. I was making the shift from being thrifty to more minimalistic in my spending habits.

I was thinking about the way I don’t have a lot of trouble spending money on food items, versus the way I hesitate to spend a lot of money on most other items. How did that get started? I thought back to high school. That was the time when I was working a series of “real” jobs and I had more money in my pocket that I could decide how to spend. I remember saving some money for things like my cap and gown. I spent more money on junk food though. There was a convenience store and a few taquerias around the corner from my high school. It was a sign of I don’t know what to be able to leave campus and go to one or the other. There was a period of a few months when while waiting for my bus to arrive, that I spent many afternoons walking to and from the store. That came to an abrupt halt when I gained so much weight that it was necessary to go up a dress size. I refused to do that and opted instead to quit eating candy bars and drinking coke and decided walking the track was better than walking to and from the store. (It was amazing how effortless that weight loss was.)

Recently though, I have seen that spending habits can begin even younger than when one is a teenager. Try five years old! I have heard of advertising being aimed at children, but mostly I ignored those statistics since I do not have a tv in my home. Bean and I don’t hang out in stores much. When we do, Bean doesn’t often ask for things.

Bean received her first spending money when we went on vacation in December. She has had a few dollars here and there to spend as she wished, but that was the first time that she really asked for and received her own money. She loves spending money!

Since then, she has become focused on getting money and spending it. When we got back, she started a habit of raiding her piggy bank for all of the silver pieces so that she could use the snack machine at school. I asked her why she wanted to use the snack machine when she had so many snacks in her lunch. It was because the other kids were doing it. I forgot about the influence of others on our spending habits. That starts younger than I expected too. I had to put the piggy bank away and explain that she was saving money for a special item.

Now, we are at a point that if we go out on the weekend and I need to go to a store, Bean wants some money and she wants me to give her a dollar. I think it is time that I start giving her an allowance.

I suppose I didn’t think that it would happen so quickly or maybe, just not like this. I now must teach Bean the value of a dollar and about saving, spending, and giving. I am already tired thinking about it. However, since I am determined that she learns young how to manage money well, I will start immediately. She is an only child, so for me, it makes it even more necessary. I am continually surprised at all of the things that people give her, and she doesn’t need to share with siblings!
I must find a simple way to teach a child money management. Do you have any ideas? If you have been through this with your children, I would love to hear from you. If you haven’t faced this situation yet, but think you know what you would do, please share. Every little bit helps.

4 Comments on “Spending Habits Start Young

  1. Starting in middle school, I received $5/week for a “clothing allowance.” Even 20 years ago, this wasn’t much money for clothes, so I had to plan carefully. I learned to budget and prioritize my purchases b/c I knew my mom wouldn’t bail me out if I wasn’t. It was a hard but important lesson.

    I also received 10 times my age (in cents) as my allowance — for example, when I was 10, I received $1 per week. I mostly bought candy. If I’d been smart, I would have supplemented my clothing allowance — but I wasn’t smart, LOL.

  2. I didn’t have an allowance, but was given money and mostly saved and spent well from what I’m told. I still do. Our eight year old occasionally wants to do jobs for a dollar or two – my only rule is that he also saves up another half of the amount before he spends it – a savings buffer – because I don’t want him going back to $0.00 after each expense.

    • Ah, this reminds me of something I did with my daughter, who strongly wanted to purchase a (used) car when she turned 16. I told her I would match every dollar she saved. This motivated her and she babysat, mowed lawns, and did other odd jobs for several years, saving up for her car. Lo and behold, she saved $1200! I then had to cough up the same, LOL!

  3. My friend has four children and for birthdays, Christmas etc they are given money by their grandparents instead of toys. This money goes into an account but they are allowed to choose how to spend it (within reason). Of the two girls (9 and 10) one will save up and buy something she really wants (like a $100 stuffed tiger!) while the other one would blow the whole lot on sugar and glitter if she was allowed … same parents, same upbringing, completely different attitudes – one is all about instant gratifiction, the other is put the work in and reap the benefits (also relates to their work ethic interestingly).

    Its a good age to teach them about money though, no real repercussions and if they’ve blown all their money and then see something they really want then the answer is no, lesson learned for next time.

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