How I Taught My Son About Money


cellphone doing apple pay. kids and money. Des Moines MomMy 12-year-old son did not know how to save money. He just didn’t get the concept. The minute he had a $5 bill in his hand, he was asking to buy candy in the Target checkout line. “But I have my own money,” he would say.

How do you argue with that?

We had tried the allowance-for-chores method in hopes that he would build up a savings for a time when his social life became more active and he needed money to go places with friends. We also hoped he would save his money to maybe help purchase one of those high-ticket items on his wishlist – like a PS5. I still remember pinching my pennies as a kid to buy my first Discman at Electric Avenue. I had such pride in that purchase, and I want that for him.

But alas, the kid could not save a dime. He had it, and he spent it.

Teaching Kids About Money

This fall, as he entered 6th grade, we decided to try something different. I had a theory that it was the actual physical cash in hand that was the problem. It was too easy to spend. However, we had tried the hide-it-in-the-bank method as well, which was just too hard to do, and he didn’t like not having easy access to his money. Honestly, it was a little unfair and it didn’t teach him any good money habits. To learn good money habits, kids have to actually, well…use money.

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This fall we set up a Venmo account for our son to use. Each month, his allowance is transferred into his account. He receives a notification when he has been paid. If he needs cash to do something, he just transfers the money back to us and then we give him the cash. Or, we can pay his friends’ parents just as easily. (Honestly, with venues like Wells Fargo Arena and Principal Park switching to cashless, this has been a nice option since there is no way I’m sending him out with my credit card!)

This has been genius.

He can see the money growing in his Venmo account. And, because there is a process to getting the money out, he takes the time to consider if he needs the cash and how much he needs. If we’re out shopping and there’s something he wants to buy, he pays me and I pay the store.

Electronic payments are the future! We love how easy Venmo is for him to use and that he can see his balance at all times. He feels a sense of accomplishment knowing he has saved his money, and ownership since it is in his possession, accessible on his phone at all times.

What other ways have you taught kids about money?

Robin CaddellRobin and her husband, Ryan, have lived in the booming city of Grimes since 2009. Their two children, Evan (12) and Elise (10), keep them busy running between sports and dance activities, as well as engaging in the usual pre-teen dramas. Robin owns her own marketing consulting firm, Springbrooke Marketing, and loves to create. After years of working in the financial services industry, she is passionate about financial education. In her free time, Robin enjoys golfing, walking, reading and cheering on her UNI Panthers. Go Cats!


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