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How to motivate kids to save

I remember as a child being so motivated to make money. Though to be honest, I can’t even remember what I was saving up for. But I do remember pleading with Mum to pay me for small chores round the house like washing the car and hanging out the laundry. I had a chart on the fridge where I tallied up my precious dollars and cents for that must-have item. The only problem was that my motivation to keep this saving plan going didn’t last. After a couple of weeks the chart was empty, the car was dirty and mum was back to hanging up the clothes.

Now I see my kids on the same money-making rollercoaster, jumping off after the ride gets a bit boring. I understand it’s completely natural, but I don’t want them to get into bad habits with money and saving. And children today have a lot more temptation than when I was young.

As parents, how do we keep them motivated with saving? Is the solution to offer a reward? Or should savings be the reward for saving? There’s no right or wrong answer but research studies are in our favour when it comes to teaching kids financial habits. They show that kids as young as six and even toddlers can be taught money matters. Gosh, if my kids can get their heads around my tablet and smartphone, small lessons on money should be a walk in the park. The key is keeping their interest up and making saving just another part of life, like saying please or brushing their teeth.

Another key point is to make it fun. In this day and age, you don’t need to worry about them understanding the role of money, however they don’t see money like we did. It’s pretty invisible with plastic cards and online shopping. Your kids might not have even stepped into a bank before. It’s the old “Where does milk come from?” modern day issue. So to teach your kids about money, you need to make it tangible.

One of my friends told me the other day over a much-needed cup of coffee that her little entrepreneur was selling “table delivered” cans of soft drink at his grandfather’s birthday for a dollar and now wanted to spend all his earnings on a bike. She has no idea how to turn this little spender into a saver. We talked for a while and decided she should try the two jar technique (one jar for saving, one jar for spending) and reward him for saving the bit he keeps. Now this reward doesn’t have to be big or expensive. Choosing the next movie the family watches can be enough. Make it something that they are interested in. I suggested that next time they’re at the supermarket, this little entrepreneur gets to count the money out for the checkout assistant.

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Younger kids might need a simpler start. If they haven’t been introduced to money before, then a sticker chart is a great way in. Every time they do something good or helpful they get a sticker and these add up to monetary rewards.

With primary school kids, games can keep them motivated towards saving. There are loads of games out there, but a great one is CommBank’s Coinland. It’s a virtual world where kids can play a variety of games all aimed at teaching good savings, earning and spending habits.

When your kids are ready, instil in them more adult financial habits. For example, if they want a new game, go to the shop and check out the price then go home and search online for it. You may find a second hand version for half the price! Treating kids like adults does wonders for their self-esteem and, when it comes to them leaving home, sensible money habits go with them.

If you want to find out more ways to help motivate and reward your kids with saving, check out The Beanstalk, CommBank’s new site which offers advice, articles and downloadable activity sheets for home. It’s great.

Remember, what works for one of your children might not work for another – it’s a bit of trial and error. And you need to keep refreshing the activities as they grow up, because a 6-year-old girl is very different to a 13-year-old boy. Anyway, good luck! They might even teach you something about saving, you never know.

This post is sponsored by the Commonwealth Bank.

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