Carmie raised a point yesterday that I thought was timely and worth further discussion. She asked:
sking as a future parent of middle-schoolersâ€¦..do you let your kids hang on to their gift cash? Do they give you a portion? Do they have to save it all? Spend it all?
Obviously, my answer to this isn’t going to be right for everyone, but I’m happy to share what we do. And as with all monetary dealings when it comes to our children, I think the long-term goal should be teaching fiscal responsibility in a way that sticks. Demanding that all gifted money be immediately deposited into a savings account is certainly wise in the conventional sense, but if it leaves kids feeling deprived and not in control of their own money, they’re unlikely to make good choices once they have more freedom.
I’ve discussed my allowance philosophy here before; I believe in mandating some savings and charitable giving for our kids with the money they earn.
Now, cash gifts are (to my mind) a little bit different. I do not make my kids donate a portion of gifts to charity, just as I wouldn’t make them take a couple of markers out of the pack and donate them. Heh. Depending on the amount of money, we usually figure out a division of money to spend and money to save. If it’s a small gift, I’ll let them spend it. If it’s larger, we put some in the bank.
I also try to steer them towards purchasing something the giver would approve of (this isn’t completely necessary, of course, but again, I think it helps them to be more mindful). If it’s money from a peer, I’m more likely to let them spend it on toys. If it’s from a grandparent or older relative we usually go towards clothes or books.
How about you? I’m curious to know how other folks handle it. Hit me!