“Mommy, can I have a peh-nie?” It’s a question I hear a lot from Cameron, a request for a penny. Sometimes it’s just to play with, sometimes he means he wants to put the loonie in the laundry machine, sometimes it’s to tuck somewhere bizarre. He already knows that money is important, but for what? Playing with. Why? Mommy uses debit. “Debit, please,” I say, and hand over my bank card. Heck, at not even two Cameron was taking cards and running them through whatever slots he could find, saying, “Debit! Debit,” with gusto. He’ll do anything to get my hand on my debit card. I say to myself, at least it’s not credit! Most of what I buy I have the money for already, and it comes straight out of my account. No debts racking up!
How the hell am I supposed to teach Cameron about money? I’m clueless! Despite one month or more ago writing that it was time to get my finances under control, I’ve really not made much headway. For two weeks I diligently entered my expenditures into a spreadsheet. Now? I’ve got roughly one months worth of receipts mountaining up in my kitchen. I’m tempted to say screw it and start again with monitoring, as it’ll be a nightmare job to do, plus I know I’m missing a few coffee ones a week. Oh, and those little important benefits things at work? Haven’t touched them. Have I started saving automatically out of my paycheque? Nope. I have set up an auto-transfer to be sure that daycare and rent cheques and a couple bills are covered in my chequing account every month. Woo!
My parents started off right, in my opinion. At a very young age I got an allowance. It wasn’t exactly tied to accomplishing chores, but I know I had chores to do. I don’t recall what I did with the money beyond at one point to earn a Brownie badge I had to decide on something I wanted to buy, and save to do it. I bought a Slinky toy. What went wrong? Why am I so clueless about money? Partly I’m sure it has to do with my brain just not being interested in the stuff. I can’t point a finger at anything they did incorrectly concerning money.
I have a very loose and general plan concerning money awareness for Cameron. It goes something like this:
1) He’ll have a set of chores he needs to do, and he’ll get an allowance, but the two are not directly tied together. Should he wish more money though, there’ll be a ‘job jar’ – with some fair rate of pay per item in there. I’m not talking about letting him bargain with me for every extra bit of work – “Mom! I picked up three leaves from the grass, that’s fifteen cents please!” I mean, you want extra money and haven’t convinced me to contribute, okay, here’s a way to do it.
2) Actively teach him to divvy up his money into “save” and “spend” categories.
But most of all, I need to whip myself into shape so I can teach by example. He needs to be aware of bill payment, of savings, of budgeting. Which means I need to do those things.
Right now for Cameron, pennies are toys. Fascinating little circles that hang out in Mommy’s wallet. Perhaps a more immediate action plan is to start to use cash around him … instead of just using my debit card for everything. Get the idea started that money is useful, not just a toy.
This entry is part of another blog blast, an event put on by Parentbloggers.com. They’re looking for hints about how to teach your kids about money. Capital One has a new online interactive tool to help families learn about money management … I know I’ll be checking it out, even though some of the details will differ here in Canada.