I’m bereft of the joy pocket money or an allowance can bring. Growing up, we were too poor for our parents to give three boys an allowance. We had no telephone until I was 15 years old. No TV until I was 16. My middle brother and I had a car before my parents owned one. (They used to ask if they could borrow the car!) We worked really hard physically when we were growing up and were not rewarded for it. Now quit sobbing and throw those soggy tissues in the trash can!

My parents raised us with strong discipline and truck-loads of love. It seemed, on looking back, that it was a good combination when considering the achievements and life successes we have had. However, one thing we missed out on was the opportunity, from an early age, of developing money management skills. Does that mean that we became fiscally irresponsible? Not at all, because in our poverty we learned to work hard, to be grateful, to do things for ourselves, to be respectful and to aim to have a better life financially than our parents were able to afford.

It worked, partially due to the fact that we learned to live within our means, learned to pay cash for things (except the house mortgage), and were careful what we spent our money on. I am not saying that, because of my life experience, everybody else should do it that way. Not at all! The one thing I used to steer clear of was paying children to do regular house chores. I felt that there were certain things in family life we did just because it was part of family living and we all have to share the work around. Now you may say, “I’m not reading any more of his blogs, because he’s a crazy man!” It’s OK not to agree on this point.

I feel that it is better to give a weekly/monthly allowance, not based on work performance, but as an opportunity to teach money management. I have one grandchild who is a stingy saver and another who spends his money quickly in case the world ends tomorrow. It is with this money that some lessons can be taught. If you are people who tithe to your church you can teach them to set aside 10% of their allowance to place in the offering. If that is not your situation you can talk to your children about giving a percentage to charity.

You can teach them to save and pay cash for things instead of, in adult life, paying a note on a monthly basis. You can help them open a savings account and regularly deposit amounts in that. You can, when they are in their teens, talk to them about the use of credit cards or taking out loans, showing how much extra they will have to pay over the length of the loan or the huge interest applied in terms of a credit card account.

What a great opportunity we have as parents to train our children in fiscal matters so that they won’t hopefully make the mistakes some of us have made or what many people continue to do!

So for this week, seek time to talk to your children about age-appropriate money matters and maybe audit your own money management. Children learn a lot from what they see you doing.

Written by Brian Burgess, School Counselor, PPE, Nashville TN (These are my opinions, not those of PPE)