Monday, January 13, 2014

Kids and Money

The other day I was looking through  and I discovered that it has a cool feature which allows you to see the demographics of a neighbhourhood.  I should note here that we are not moving.  I told my friends the other day that our next move will be to a retirement community so we are planning on staying a while.  Back to the website, I saw that the average income for a family in our neighbourhood is about $115,000.  Wow.  We are nowhere near that.   I think the reason that we are able to live here is that we bought early (phew!) and we are pretty frugal and wise with our money. And our car is the ugliest and oldest one on the street.  Sometimes I think about how we would have way more money if we both worked full time but I think I would be a crazy woman.  I don't think I could do it and be able to manage the house/kids without being stressed.

I've blogged about saving money before here, but I just want to emphasize an aspect of it.  I'm not saying I'm an expert but I do have some strong opinions on it.   I think it is so important that we teach our kids, from a very young age, the value of a dollar.  I think that they should be able to know how much things cost and how to save.  They should recognize the importance of waiting for sales or looking for discounts.  I also believe that they should do chores or work for their money.  Kai does not have a lot that he needs to do but he earns $1 a week for making his own school lunches 4 days a week, feeding the fish each day, and taking out the recycling every few days.  If you take your kids grocery shopping with you, you can teach them so much.  Kids love to learn.  If you answer their questions, they will continue to ask and learn.

This week we walked/biked to the bank (collecting $1 worth of bottles along the way, yes, so nerdy!) and the boys went to get their first bank account.
My hope is that this money will go towards their future education.  When we were kids, half the money we made went straight to the bank for university, the rest we could use to donate or spend as we wished.  We were expected to donate 10% of it.  We also encourage our kids to donate and their bottle money goes towards a menchies fund and supporting a missionary family.

We do have RESP's for them that we contribute to monthly but by the time they are ready to use them it will likely just cover one year of university/trades/college and we are not planning on giving them any more.  So, they better start saving now :)
It was so awesome to see them do their first deposit.  I'd rather see their money in the bank, gaining interest,  than buying another toy they don't need!    I remember my mom taking me to get my first bank account, I felt so grown up.  I love that my parents taught me the value of a dollar and encouraged/made us save .  Kai was very intrigued by the idea of interest and Koen didn't really care too much about any of it except for the toy area that they have.  Kai had to sign something for the first time too which was kind of cool.

Gary and I are not driven to make a lot of money but we are focused on being wise with what we do have.   This is sort of opposite to the mentality that seems to exist these days; try to make as much money as possible to buy whatever you want!  If we wanted to make more money, we would be so busy and away from our kids more.  The decision we have made is that I will be home with the kids, working part time from home and subbing once a week, and this has worked well for us.  I know it doesn't work best for everyone, and I'm not saying that it's the best thing to do, but for us, that is what works.   Will I work full time when the kids are in school?  Probably not.  I would teach part time or take on some more photography but at this point, I don't see full time work in my future.  

I don't want to make anyone feel bad and I hope I haven't.  I just want to encourage others to talk to their kids about money.  Often.  Naturally.  It should come up multiple times in the day and is obviously age dependent.  Koen knows about groceries on sale (milk, cereal etc) and second hand toys and clothes.   Kai knows a lot more (cost of filling up your gas tank, minimum wage, interest, tipping etc).

Do you remember your first bank account?  Were you encouraged to save for your future education?  Did your parents have rules on saving or spending?


  1. Love this. But I know we are on the same page in this area ;)

  2. joanna3:56 PM

    Hi Louise,

    I love your comment "Ugliest car on the block". We were like that too with our old station wagons! I was also the "meanest Mom" on the block because our girls had to do the dishes!

    Ps: I have more bottles!

  3. We opened our daughter's 1st bank account when she was a few months old (thanks to her getting her first cheque). We will definitely be teachering her the importance of saving, and giving, and how to be a smart spender.

  4. We didn't have rules for our children about how they spent/saved their money, but I believe our influence taught them the value of saving and wise spending. We do feel it is our responsibility to pay for their post secondary education though. They have paid for some things like their books, but university is so expensive now, that we don't want them to graduate with huge student loans to pay back.

  5. I guess that makes me and my mom both nerdy because we too pick up the bottles when we're out for walks! Both kids have had their own accounts since being born because grandparents have written cheques in their names. My parents are starting to put what money they would spend on the kids' birthday and Christmas gifts into a savings bond for each grand child so that it helps all of them in the long run instead of in the short term gain of more toys! Thank you for the reminder though! It's always an encouragement that there are others living on a smaller income and don't feel the need to have everything instantaneously!

  6. Carol, I wonder how many parents pay for post secondary and whether they pay all or some! Very interesting.

    I was able to work throughout university and full time in the summers so I graduated after 5 years at UBC without debt. Gary, however, went to Trinity Western and accumulated a whole lot of debt. I guess it depends where you go!!

    I quickly checked online to make sure the prices haven't gone up too much and fortunately UBC is still about $5,000 for 30 credits so don't feel that is too much for them to make in the summers. We will see what happens!!!

    I just saw so many people blowing their parents money. I had calculated how much each hour of class cost and how many hours I had to work to pay for that class so let's just say that I did not skip class ever :)

    I wonder if we weren't paying tuition for the kids now (will be $6000/year in September), if I would set that money aside for their university instead....

  7. Certainly it is much less of an expense if the kids are able to live at home. Our oldest son did that and it was a huge difference from our youngest who chose to go out of our city and has food and housing as well - that part is more than the tuition! Our boys were never too successful getting summer jobs - mostly worked at summer camps where the money isn't great, but the experience is invaluable! I never encouraged jobs throughout the school year as I thought they should be focused on homework, youth group and their music. You must have been very hard working and focused - good for you. My friends have a variety of opinions on this - as you said, some children don't value their education if they aren't working hard for it themselves. Right now we have 3 in university at once even though there are 10 years between our oldest and youngest. Our oldest has gone back to graduate studies - law school - he had saved enough to pay for their housing and food etc., but we are paying his tuition even though he is married and has a child. We did not pay for private schools through elementary and secondary school so that makes a big difference from you. Scholarships are also helpful and I'm sure your smart children will qualify for some! I admire how you are thinking through these things now - so many parents think that those days are so far away - believe me the years go by fast!

  8. CArol-thank you for your response! I love your perspective because you're a few years ahead of me :)

    I do hear what you are saying about working at camps and gaining invaluable experience. That is what some of my older nieces do as well. So many things to think about!

    I'm sure your kids are extremely thankful for your help with their education.

  9. So many things to think about! I also only work part-time (2 days a week) to be with the kids. So important when they are little and I love being home with them. It does mean we don't go on any fancy vacations or have cleaning help in the house, we gladly accept hand-me-down clothes and bought a used van.

    We do expect to pay for as much of our kids education as we can afford. Luckily, Johnny and I both had great scholarships and I had help from my parents, in addition to jobs, so we didn't leave school with any debt. If we can do that for our kids, we will! It is such a huge gift to them. We have RESP's for each kid and they each have a bank account, including the baby.

    My kids know they can't buy everything they want. They hear frequently that things are "too expensive" or we have "too much stuff already". They participate in donating to charities, we have no-present birthday parties and instead ask for food donations to the food bank. It is just part of our lives!

    Great post though to remind of what is really important. :)

  10. Love this post! I am so tracking with you. Also love 'till debt do us part :)

  11. I don't remember my first bank account, but i remember getting my first debit card. I don't recall how old I was, however i was so embarrassed to have it in my wallet (so I must have been relatively young) that i made my dad get rid of it! hahaha I remember never seeing any of my friends ever having one and felt weird...

    I like that you teach them about money at such an early age!! Great idea!!