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Kim from Thrifty Little Mom is back with the most adorable way to teach young children how to manage their money — by using Save Spend Give Jars! This afternoon project takes minimal supplies to get started, and is a fun way to get the whole family on board with budgeting.
“Momma, I want that Ninja Turtle.”
“Well, you know what you have to do.”
“I have to earn some money?”
“By cleaning up my toys?”
“[Thoughtful Pause] Can we go clean my toys now?
This was a conversation that I had with my 3 year old son at Target last week. He may only be in preschool but is already capable of understanding the concept of extrinsic motivation. I want to teach him early on that if he works hard he can be rewarded. Therefore we have already created a small scale budgeting system for his hard earned cash.
High up on my bedroom dresser, I keep 3 canisters at the ready. One is for spending, one is for saving and one is for giving. When my son does a task that I assign him I pay him money (usually coins) when it is done to my satisfaction. Then I pull down the jars and let him drop his money into the ones he wants to contribute to.
If you want to go ahead and start teaching your kids about budgeting, this system is really simple and can even be a fun craft project. Here’s a rundown of how the system works and how you can make your own containers with your kids.
The Spend Jar
My son calls the Spend Jar the Target Jar because frankly that’s about the only place we shop. The money that your child puts in this jar is set up for them to spend on things they want.
The next time your little ones are begging for popcorn at the movies, you can let them pay for their own $10 bag of buttery heaven and learn a lesson about the cost of those movie night delicacies. Each time they shop using their own money they have to start making choices about whether or not the expense is worth it.
The Save Jar
My son is all about instant gratification right now. He understands that the save jar is for big and special things but he just isn’t willing to wait around for all that. Therefore, that canister remains empty most of the time.
If you’ve got older children who want high price-tagged electronics, this is a perfect system for helping them get what they want and pay cash for it.
Sometimes parents can be tempted to go ahead and buy a big ticket item for their child and then tell them that they can pay them back. This is exactly what credit card companies do for us adults. If you want to teach your kid solid, debt-free kind of money management, make them wait until they have they the cash saved and then let them go buy it. You will be doing them a huge favor that sticks with them for the rest of their lives.
The Give Jar
The give jar is excellent for teaching your kids about tithing or caring for others. My son knows that what he drops in the give jar goes with him on Sunday mornings to his preschool church service. It could also go toward helping someone or to buy items for community outreach projects.
This simple and tangible system is a great start as you begin to teach your own children about budgeting. It can also be lots of fun to create your own saving canisters together. Here’s how we made ours!
- Set of 3 up-cycled containers
- Duct tape, washi tape, or scrapbook paper
Step 1: Pick Your Canister
In our case we chose to upcycle these small PRINGLES cans. You could use any kind of container including empty yogurt cups, jelly containers or empty peanut butter jars.
Step 2: Decorate
Older kids really love creating with Duct Tape and Washi tape. I even think wrapping these in scrapbook paper or newspaper would be fun. If your kids are younger you’ll have to offer a little help or keep it really simple. In my case I wrapped that jar in duct tape and my son personalized them with his favorite hero stickers and decorative tape that we picked up at the dollar store.
Step 3: Label
I created these fun and simple color-your-own printable jar labels. Print them, cut them out, and attach them to the jars. In my case I ended up using hot glue to attach them to the duct tape on the jars.
Step 4: Create a Slot
There are various ways to do this, but I just cut a slit in the top of the jar using scissors. I made it wide enough that a folded bill would go through. If you are using mason jars or some other kind of jar with a lid that would be more dangerous to cut, you could always do without the lid and just have your kids drop the money right in top.
Step 5: Start Saving
Remember to keep a big change container around for yourself so you have money to pay your kids. Give them some tasks or chores and then pay them right away. You’ll find your children are very excited to add to the jar and watch it grow.
I personally like that kids can take ownership of this project by implementing their own design, but if you want to be extra fancy, grab a set of mason jars with chalkboard labels and a ribbon for an upgraded look. Either way, they look really cute!
Teaching your kids about budgeting while they are young plants seeds of good money management in their little growing minds. It’s just one more way to help build their confidence and work ethic before they go out into the working world on their own!
What household tasks do you assign your kids?
How much do you pay them?
Kim Anderson’s blog Thrifty Little Mom is dedicated to helping families pursue freedom from debt while finding joy in frugal living. She lives in Atlanta, GA with her electrical engineer husband, her 3 year old son and Beagle named Bit.
Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.