Kids doing chores The thing that I have come to learn from working as a financial planner is money is as much about values and habits as it is anything else.

My own personal example comes in the story of receiving a very odd gift that was a $72.58 cheque from my Nan for my twenty-first birthday. Nan’s value was fairness – so in fairness she simply took the $50.00 gifted to her first grandchild and indexed it to inflation for every subsequent gift!

I’ve observed this further when seeing people donating to charities at Brumbies games. I noticed that a lot of people who bring their kids, instead of throwing the loose change into the bucket themselves make a point of handing it over to the kids so they can put it in the bucket.

Later, you’ll see a group of young adults, and one will jump away from the group on the way out of the game to make sure they donate their loose change as well. It has made me wonder – are they naturally generous or is it perhaps a habit or tradition that they picked up over a decade ago, when their parents handed them the change to go in the bucket.

So what are some of the other small ways that kids could be learning about money from their parents?

I think the increased use of credit and debit cards as a payment mechanism can have a really skewed effect on kids developing good money habits. This is nothing to do with the use of credit and whether goods are actually affordable in the family budget, I am simply talking about the fact that while you may be a big user of modern card technology – you probably still saw your parents take cash out of the wallet or purse a thousand times, handing it to a cashier in return for the goods you took out of the store.

Now with things like paywave, the kids simply watch you wave the wondrous piece of plastic that is the Visa or Mastercard in front of a little machine and hey presto you have something! Is it any wonder young adults get themselves into excess debt with credit cards.

So when you’re making decisions about levels of allowance for your children, aside from the values maybe think about the opportunity to develop habits. There’s a good argument that regardless of family means, you should consider giving your children an allowance that requires them to physically save for larger purchases, even if you could afford to give them the cash. This way they develop what’s a fundamental skill of money management.

Do you have any stories about money being used to reflect values, or lessons you learned about finances from your family?


(image credit flickr user davidreber)