Value Of Money

Quite a few people have written about the value of money in this forum, but with this post, I wanted to share my own experience and thoughts.

Value Of Money - Teach The Value Of Money To Children - Money And Kids

Since our 7-year-old nephew was visiting, who is extremely fond of video games like many kids his age, we decided to take him to a nearby mall on one of the weekends. It has a gaming zone. He enjoyed quite a lot there.

The next day I overheard this conversation between him and his grandmother, my mother-in-law (MIL).

Nephew: I really had a good time yesterday.

MIL: Really? Do you know how much it cost?

Nephew: How much?

MIL: 500 rupees!

Nephew: That’s it?

MIL: So what do you think, you should have spent 1000 rupees?

This is a very regular conversation. But it got me thinking. Is it that in our enthusiasm to provide everything to our kids, we are forgetting to instill the value of money in them?

Do you remember how buying clothes used to be an annual or bi-annual indulgence ‘in our times’? Consider now. We buy clothes whenever we feel like, even when we have not thought of buying, we sometimes buy if we like something. Same goes for toys and books and everything else. And kiddie stuff is expensive these days. We buy it because we want to give the best to our kids. So, there are cupboards full of clothes, there are toys to fill an entire room and all sorts of books, and what not!

There has to be a middle path in which we do not go overboard while also provide our kids with the best in everything. Well, it is not that I have discovered the perfect way to accomplish that but there are few things which I have or would like to implement in teaching value of money to my son (almost 2-year-old now):

  • When we go shopping, we must have a list; and we must stick to it. Most of the time when we go to malls, we invariably end up buying something or the other. We have to resist that. Personally, with a toddler, these days we don’t loiter around. We discuss where all will we be going and go to only those stores. But yes, when we go to supermarkets, though we always have the list, I seem to remember a lot of things which are not in the list. I am the guilty one usually. But I am learning.
  • Most importantly, we have to be conscious about what we say about money (which is actually applicable for everything not just money) in front of the kids. Are we saying a 200-300 rupees toy is cheap? Are we buying block sets which cost few thousands, on a whim? Are we exhibiting similar trend with our own things – changing mobile phones frequently, buying expensive gadgets too often, ordering food from outside every other day?
  • We must also explain when we buy expensive stuff, why we are buying it and that we think it is expensive. In fact, we must explain how money ‘works’ to our kids at the earliest.
  • We should encourage the good-old habit of recycling and reusing. My son, in his enthusiasm, had torn apart quite a few of his board books. The first thought that came to my mind was buying him new ones, but I discarded the idea promptly realising what lesson he would learn from this. So, I asked my husband to repair all of them, and my son continues to ‘read’ from them.
  • Be judicious in shopping for clothes. I have not shopped for his clothes at malls except for his first birthday. That too was on discount. The thing is if you visit a branded store, all clothes look so cute, one ends up buying more than necessary. So, we visit small, nearby stores for his cloth requirements. And I never buy too many because they outgrow very fast.
  • I think we should take our kids to parks/museums/zoos more than Malls. First of all, it protects them from getting sucked into the mall culture (eating-shopping-playing) and offers more learning opportunities.
  • My only problem area is books. I am passionate about books and buy a lot of them. I had decided to join a library and inculcate this habit in my son too.

Well, that’s the plan so far! Any suggestions?

I am discovering, with every passing day, that parenthood is a huge learning experience. Even my parents could not teach me things which I am learning because of my child. 🙂

Reema Sahay is a Stay-At-Home-Mom, Freelance Writer, Voracious Reader, Passionate Blogger, Social Media Enthusiast, Internet Junkie and Ex-Marketing Communication Professional. She spends her days running after her very curious toddler, ‘the star’, and catching up on books when he naps. She writes about charms and challenges of life at Pen Paper and shares her passion for books at Recommend Books. She sometimes feels that her 5.5 years stint in Marketing Communication was in another life

  • Sometimes, I have found that to explain the value of money, we need to talk about money as a commodity and what it stands for – basically as a means to buy stuff which could be different for different folks. For instance, with my daughter, we often talk about what 20 rupees could mean for a child on the street versus for herself. For my daughter it might buy her a 10 page coloring book which she might or might not enjoy, but the child on the street could buy two good meals for the day if not more…! The idea is to understand that we should be grateful of what we have and mindful of what we waste…
    This can even be done with household necessities or gifts for someone you care about. For instance, 500 rupees for a 2 hour enjoyment at the local mall or buying a week’s supply of fresh fruits and vegetables. Of course, for most parents who visit the mall on weekends, the challenge is to remind ourselves that we can choose between the two, even if we could afford both…:) By the way, I would place books higher than the shopping mall on the priority list, provided, they are shared with the worthy, at a later time…:D

    • Sudeepa, very well articulated thoughts. I really loved the way you have laid it out. It has offered me a perspective to think about. Thank you 🙂
      Of course, books feature on top of every list that I make. These points were not in the order of priority. I just sneaked in the point-related to books at the end because I have not been able to do what I had planned earlier. Still working on how to make a library work for me, so that I don’t pass on my habit of buying hordes of books. As you said, it is not really bad if we share it with with the less fortunate, but I buy way too much and hoard. That I think is my only vice (atleast what I am aware of) 🙂

  • “There has to be a middle path in which we do not go overboard while also provide our kids with the best in everything. ” – Your child may not realise this today, but he/she has very wise people as parents. And I’m sure one day he will thank you for this. Beautifully written and well-thought out post.

    • Sakshi, That was extremely sweet of you to say that. But I realize I am not that perfect parent you think I am 🙂 Like most of the parents, atleast on this forum, I am striving to be one though. Moreover, we all know moderation is the key in everything but ‘how’ is the question, isn’t it?

  • Good post, Reema. As my kids grew up, there have been so many things they’ve outgrown. These don’t just get thrown away because. Clothes in good condition go to charity and books get donated to the library or an orphanage. Pecan (my younger one) has been hankering us for a phone for the past year and a half. We asked him to present his case as to why we he feels we should give him a phone. Aside of that, we also told him that he needs to get more responsible with his things (losing snack boxes, lunch boxes etc had become only too common with him) and that he needs to actually “show us” that he can be responsible with his things. Through the last academic year, nothing – absolutely nothing has been lost or left behind at school.
    Yes, you are right in saying that other options should be looked into – like trips to the library or museums etc so that malls don’t become a way of life.

    I do also believe that parents can set an example here by not being impulsive themselves when it comes to shopping for things.

    Yes, parenting is indeed a lifelong lesson :-), a very interesting one at that :-).

    • Gauri, I must say my challenges are imaginary so far but you are handling your real challenges very well. Parents like us, who are just starting on this very exciting journey, totally look upto parents like you 🙂

  • Wao, that was so nicely written. Each point is just bang on. I think you have cracked it all , OK at least the money part 😉

    • Sweety, you are just being nice 🙂 if life was as simple as putting the plan in bullet points ha ha! I am sure kids throw some unexpected challenges.

  • Very sensible post Reema.. What u say about buying clothes had me saying “yes yes yes”…
    We would be waiting to buy clothes on our bday.. It was such a family experience.. My daughter surely doesn’t think so now!!

    • Divya, the thing is we ourselves don’t know where to draw the line. I am making a list of clothes my son would need in this season (rainy and cold), and a lot of things are getting added and all seem necessary!

  • Insightful post Reema – it is becoming increasingly difficult to teach our entitled kids about the value of money, isn’t it? One suggestion – we can include this whole ‘value of money education’ within the larger ‘money management education’. Teaching them to manage money – allowances, budgeting, expenses, saving up, etc – will also give them a sense of how hard one has to work to ‘earn’ and ‘save’ money. We did a story on this sometime ago – you may find it useful.
    Kritika Srinivasan

  • Thank you so much Kritika. I will certainly check out the story. I am all for collecting as many thoughts as possible on the context. It is one of the most important life lessons which needs to be passed on to the kids.

  • A very thoughtful post. I struggled with my shopping habit for long. Now we go with a list and clearly have budget in mind when we go out. Kids are also encouraged to give their purchase list before we leave home.

    • Prasad, I remember your extremely useful post about pocket money. It has been saved for later 🙂
      Just yesterday, we went to shop for some clothes for the little one, I had to resist the temptation of buying for myself. In other circumstances I would have, but now I am trying to infuse some discipline in our shopping habits. After all, parents have to lead by example.