Raising children can be scary. One of the scariest moments can be handing over a “for emergencies only” credit card to your newly independent 18 year old and holding your breath.

Teaching your kids to be responsible (Asset #30) with money can start at an early age. Here are some fun exercises and strategies on teaching responsible spending at any age.


Elementary Aged

Use a clear jar to save. As cute as the classic piggy bank is, visuals are easier to understand than concepts. In a clear jar, kids can see their savings physically growing. They’ll exercise their counting and addition skills by tallying how many of each coin and bill is in the jar and totaling it all!

Set an example. Model responsible spending for your kids (Asset #14). Create a grocery list and buy only what is on the list. When you’re running errands, only purchase what you originally went to get. If you pick a certain item based on price, explain why.

Show them that things costs money. Not just pointing out the price, but having your child bring out his/her jar, count out the money, and see the physical difference when money is spent.


Talk about budgeting. For example, our campers have a set amount of money in the camp store, the Lonehollow Outfitter. Parents can add more money to their camper’s account, but talk to your campers about budgeting. Remind them that not only will their Outfitter purchases be charged to that account, but also other things like laundry and materials for craft classes.

Show opportunity cost. That’s just another way of saying, “If you buy this, then you won’t have the money to buy that.” Help your kids weigh decisions and realize each decision has a consequence. For example, buying 10 whoopie cushions in the Lonehollow Outfitter means there isn’t enough left in your camper’s account for one of our brand new dri-fit t-shirts!

Pay them on commission. While kids are great, no one gets paid for doing nothing. Pay them a commission based on helping around the house; taking out the trash, folding the laundry, etc. Maybe the commission is a little more if you didn’t have to ask for help! Not only is it extra help for you, but your kids will learn money is earned and not handed out.

Stress the importance of giving. Once they start making a little money, teach them about giving. Have them pick an organization, a research foundation, or a charity…anyone who could use a little help. Discuss selfless giving, caring for others (Asset #26), why it’s important, and how it makes them feel.


Give them the responsibility of a bank account. By the time your kid hit the teen years, you should be able to set them up with a simple bank account. This takes responsible spending to the next level, especially if mom and dad can monitor the account activity!

Help them find a job. Not only will some work experience benefit them in the long run, it’s a glimpse into life after college, but with training wheels. (Psst…we hear being Work Crew, a CIT, or a Camp Counselor is the best job ever!)

Teach them to be cautious of credit cards. Before the candles on the cake have been blown out, freshly 18 year old teens are bombarded with credit card solicitations. Teach them how to responsibly build credit and to avoid debt as much as possible.


Here’s to responsible sons and daughters with great money management skills who will take care of us when we retire!



For these tips and more, check out more information from Dave Ramsey!

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