Money Tip for Kids

One of the best life lessons my parents taught me was the value of a dollar.

From a very young age, I had a comprehensive concept of budgeting, savings, spending and prioritizing. Although there were a lot of methods my folks used to teach, the simple mantra from my father was “put money in your kid’s hands early.”

They figured out what they spent on me annually and put that money in my control. By the time I was ten years old, I was responsible to pay for everything (school clothes, hockey registration, entertainment-everything.) There was a limit on the money I had, and this forced me to really understand what things cost.

The cool shoes became less important, when I realized they ate up half my school clothes budget (besides they would go on sale in October, so I could wait until then to snag them). My parents let me fail and make stupid purchases-better to do this at 15 than 30! They gave me support and advice, but the money was mine.

I am sure if I suddenly didn’t want to be active and play sports and just spent my money on candy and toys, they would have stepped in. However, the great thing is my mind had developed to create a sense of responsibility, self worth and self-reliance. The result, I made the right choices more often than not.

I am a strong believer that children can handle money concepts and teaching needs to start early. Financial literacy is not something that can easily be learned in your twenties or beyond. A good first step is to set up a pay plan. By 4 or 5 years old, a child can earn money with chores and then learn how to use this money.

With my own young children, we have a chore/good human chart and weekly allowance.  Chores are just part of helping as a member of a household, but acknowledge effort and kindness is also important (so go ahead and expand the chore chart idea). From this allowance, a portion goes into spending (living), a portion into savings and a portion for charity (giving).

The savings portion goes into their own bank accounts. The spending portion is fine to be in a piggy bank (and if they want to buy a fidget spinner, or save it to purchase a Lego set, so be it). The charity portion allows them to develop a great sense of humanitarian responsibility and actively choose where they want to contribute.

It may sound cliché, but kids are the future and it is our responsibility to ensure they are prepared.



Time Doesn’t Come from a Store

Christmas is coming. Time for me to get all anti-commercial goods on you! I am serious about it though. I always think my girls have too much stuff. I have too much stuff. We all have TOO MUCH STUFF! I love giving and receiving presents. Most of us do. I am not saying this should stop, but a monetary exchange, a gift draw, or the like, really puts me off.

The greatest gift is time. This is true on all levels. Your time is solely yours (it may not feel that way sometimes, but it truly is YOURS TO GIVE). 

I saw the direct impact of giving time to underprivileged kids when I coached football for 10-12 year old boys from da’ hood. Many were tough nosed kids from single parent homes, with very few positive male role models. This was a rough lot, with an “F” the world attitude.

Yet, with the gift of my time-I saw actual positive change.  whether it was teaching one how to throw a spiral, or how to shave-they developed a sense of worth.  They saw they could accomplish things, as individuals and collectively. They experienced that someone believed in them, cared about them and wanted to teach them and spend TIME with them. This is huge!

I know some of these boys have since gone on to do great things. Go to university, become realtors, lawyers and teachers-role models and people of influence.  I had the honour of assisting a kid (now man), buy his first home this past summer. Some have likely ended up in prison too, but I know I helped turn some in the right direction. I maybe, just maybe, helped to save a few.

I know the power of time first hand-I know it is the greatest gift you can give. So, why not give it to your own kids, your nieces and nephews-your loved ones?

Instead of new Barbies, a Lego set, or a new high end coat-plan a family day hike in the mountains. Actually go, pack a lunch. Make a memory and use the experience to teach about nature. The questions of discovery that come from kids will be more than worth it.

Take your nephew skating all winter-pick him up, get him on the outdoor rink. Plan a weekly bike ride with your niece-each week try a new route for new adventures. Cook with your mom (someone better learn her recipes!)

Go fishing with your dad-or work on his car. Set aside time with your spouse, even a glass of wine once the kids are asleep-that is a set meeting-that you cannot skip (because you have too many more important things to do). Plan an exercise get together with your friends, where you try something new-like yoga, or spin class.

For my family, we make sure the holiday season is filled with outdoor fun. A skate night at Olympic Plaza, or sled races on the toboggan bowl in Bridgeland are worth far more than any wrapped gift.

Just give a time commitment and stick to it.  A few less gifts under the tree will not ruin Christmas-it just might make it better. If time is money-set the spending limits high this year.