As much as we would like to think that we’ve taught our kids enough about money through allowances and such, it can be difficult for younger children to understand the world of money outside of the stuffed animals, dollar store treasures, and Lego sets they choose to purchase.
Summertime is a great time to expand their financial horizons through a very basic Summer Budget:
1. With your spouse, choose an amount of money that you would be willing to spend each week or each month for any summer fun you and your kids want to have. Our family will be doing $25 per week (tight, but still room for thrifty fun).
2. Get your kids involved in summer planning, and explain to them the concept of a budget: you have a set amount of money, and as a family you have decide how to use it.
3. Have the kids brainstorm ideas of things they might want to do over the summer and together find out how much those things might cost.
4. Each week or month plan the activities based on the budget. It might help to make your budget physical- have actual cash in small bills for the kids to divide into different envelopes depending on what they want to do- or even have play money or just pieces of paper to represent the money that needs to be budgeted.
5. Keep track! It might be good to designate the oldest child as Summer Budget Treasurer, or to rotate the position if you have several children old enough for the responsibility.
Kids will quickly begin to understand that big things, like theme parks or other trips, might cost more than they’re willing to blow on a single day. But they will also begin to realize that plenty of thrifty fun is within their grasp- $10 on craft supplies, for example, or $1 ice cream cones from McDonalds. They may also choose to save up some money for bigger things, like a trip to a zoo or museum.
Once you have your budget in place and everyone is participating, you’ll eliminate the begging for expensive entertainment and whining when you say no, and kids may also realize that some of the best things in life really are free.