Teaching Toddlers the Value of a Dollar


*FREE Chore Chart Printables*

We all want the absolute best for our children. We want them to have happy and successful futures. Money is not everything, however it is an important thing. We want our children to grow up to be financially responsible adults. But how often do we talk to our young kids about money? How much are we teaching them and leading by example? If we wait until they’re in high school and landing their first job, it may be too late. We don’t want to miss all the fundamental years of instilling lifelong values. It’s really a three-part lesson: how to be a hard worker, how to manage your earnings, and how to give with a generous heart. It’s never too early to teach our children the value of a dollar.

Years ago, my husband and I participated in a course offered at our church called Financial Peace University. Ever heard of it? Or maybe you’ve heard of it’s creator, and world renowned finance expert and speaker, Dave Ramsey. If you haven’t, I highly suggest looking into Ramsey and his methods. He has multiple courses, podcasts, and literature out there that have seriously changed lives. Going through FPU changed the game for us. We used to struggle to keep our bank account from going into overdraft protection. We used to get behind on bills we couldn’t pay on time. Our parents did not really teach us how to manage money and we made a lot of mistakes early on in life that put us in a ton of debt. We went from being super financially irresponsible to following a balanced budget every month and planning for retirement! I’m not claiming we are perfect or have it all together, but we are working our baby steps from the course and our financial future looks brighter than ever before. Let me tell you, that is a great feeling. It’s a feeling that I want for my children one day as well. I’m sure you do too.

What really kickstarted my sense of urgency to instill the value of a dollar into my young toddlers was a book I read called Smart Money Smart Kids, co-written by Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruz. It was fantastic. It was informational and inspirational. I was full of ideas by the end of it and couldn’t wait to start practicing the things I learned from the book with my children. It’s a quick read that I will always suggest to parents with children of any age because it has value for everyone with kids at each stage of life. You can take check it out here.

Of course there are little things that we expect our kids to do as being members of the family and household, but giving them extra tasks to complete for a monetary reward is instrumental in teaching them about working hard and earning. I created a chore chart to hang on the refrigerator and showed them what each task was and how to successfully complete it. Instead of printing a new copy each week and wasting all that paper, I printed one copy and put it inside a plastic sleeve. I use a dry erase marker to mark their stars for each completed task and count tally their weekly earnings. At the end of the week, we erase and start again. When I first started implementing a chore chart, I discovered many great examples on Pinterest, but there was always something that didn’t quite work for us. Either something needed added or removed, so I created my own to cater to our specific goals. In creating ours, I followed the KISS rule (Keep It Simple Stupid). Mostly because I wanted to keep it clear for the kids and make it easy to modify as needed. You can totally do this too! If you’d like to check out ours and even give it a try yourself, you can click here to download it for free! 🙂

It’s Pay Day! Okay, your child comes to you with their hand out, anxiously awaiting their reward for all of their hard work. But before you break out your wallet, make sure you give them the most important reward of all: positive praise. Positive praise for a job well done is very important to children of all ages. Their effort should not go unrecognized. Make sure that first and foremost they hear you say things like “Wow! You did an awesome job!” Or “I can tell you worked hard on this and I am so proud of you.” After that- it’s safe to bust out those dollar bills.

Of course it is completely up to you to set your monetary pay out. We chose to pay out different amounts per task. For example, feeding the dog is a daily task and is worth 25 cents- where as putting clothes away is worth 50 cents as it is a little harder and only completed twice a week. Of course as the kids get older, the tasks will become more involved and the payout will increase. When we first started, my daughter was only 4 so we started with simple tasks like brushing her teeth and getting herself dressed. This gave her extra incentive to keep practicing at doing these things without (much) help from mommy. 🙂

In our experience, real piggy banks get dropped and shattered into a million tiny shards of glass. So instead, we bought cheap clear plastic crayon boxes to serve as piggy banks. It helps for kids to be able to physically see their cash adding up. Another tip from Dave Ramsey that is great for younger kids, is to crumple up the dollar bills a little before placing them in the box. This gives the illusion of larger quantity because their box will look fuller faster. This type of visual is a great motivational tool to keep them on track to continue working and earning more and more! Our kids love to take out their cash and count it from time to time. That’s great practice as well. When the itch comes to spend, we will allow them to take out up to half of their total money for spending, but they must leave the other half in savings. The trip to the store is something to look forward to! They will be so excited to hand over their very own hard earned money to the cashier and get to go home with their purchase. What was even more exciting though (for me as a parent) was the first time my daughter wanted to give her own money to church. As well as the times she wanted to spend her own money on a new toy for her baby brother. Those are the moments that melt your heart and make you feel like you must be doing something right as a parent. Those moments are priceless.

It really is never too early to start instilling the value of a dollar in our children. We started when our daughter was 4. She is now 6 and our son is almost 4. They each have their own chore charts and their own money box. Conversations about money in a way they can understand are also very important. I didn’t have a clue where to start. So if you’re like me, I highly suggest reading Smart Money Smart Kids or even just giving my free chore chart printable a try. I hope it works wonders for your children and helps spark conversation about financial responsibility. Your kids will thank you some day.

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