Budget Lessons… To Educate Your Children On The Value Of A Dollar!
Would you agree that we have a big problem with debt in our country? Is part of the problem because we do not teach our children how to manage their money? We don’t provide them with lessons on budgeting. We do not teach them the value of a dollar!
Budget Lessons That Will Prepare Your Children For College And The Rest Of Their Life?
When my daughter left for her sophomore year of college at the University of Tennessee, I knew we were headed for trouble when she asked me about shrimp. Moving her into her first off-campus apartment, she was full of questions. Shrimp, I told her, was not in the average college student’s grocery budget.
“Well,” she replied, “how much can I spend a week on groceries?”
“Fifty dollars,” I said. “But even though you could buy shrimp with that amount of money, you’ll need to decide whether or not you want to.”
Before her adventures in Knoxville, we spent a significant amount of time as a family weighing the pros and cons of different schools, evaluating how much we could spend and where we’d find tax-advantaged money to pay for it all. But it occurred to me that although we’d expressed the importance of good grades and applying for scholarships, we hadn’t explained the nuts and bolts of how to create a college budget.
It turned out that this budget lesson came at a critical time.
Budget Lesson One: Prioritize your expenses
We gave our daughter $50 per week to cover utilities and groceries, including cleaning supplies and hygiene products like shampoo. If she wants that bag of jumbo frozen shrimp at nearly $20 a pop, then she’ll have to do some serious sacrificing. This is not an easy task, since she plows through fresh produce faster than a hungry farmer’s family.
Not that we’re complaining. We encourage healthy eating habits and believe the budget we gave her is generous enough to fund the purchase of nutritious foods. But she’ll need to prioritize whether she wants to buy one bag of shrimp or a pound of chicken, ground beef, and salmon, plus some fresh veggies. Which will keep her full for a week.
Budget Lesson Two: Understanding credit
Kids learn how money works fast when they’re given a strict budget. After she demonstrated she could follow the $50 per week rule, saving enough each week to cover her utility costs for the month. Then we allowed her to use our credit card instead of cash. College students, whether they live on campus or in an apartment of their own, incur a range of expenses for which need to prepare.
We did this because our credit card gives us 4x points on grocery store purchases. It also lets us see exactly where she’s spending our money — no more squirreling away funds to use at the liquor store.
Experienced credit users know that the key to making a points scheme work is to avoid debt by always paying your statement balance in full every month. This was a great opportunity to teach her how credit works. It was also an easy way to track her expenses in case a dispute arose later.
Budget Lesson Three: Appreciating your belongings
When you’re responsible for the replacement cost of your comforter… Because you accidentally stepped on the edge with a high heel and ripped it to shreds, it’s amazing how quickly you learn to care for your things. The same goes for clothing, shoes, and kitchenware. Suddenly, the nonstop, one-way conveyor belt of items lent out to friends but somehow never returned came to a screeching halt.
Budget Lesson Four: Learning the value of a dollar
Prioritize spending. Use credit wisely. Care for your belongings. Each of these micro-lessons led to the grand-daddy of all money values: Live by a budget and respect the value of a dollar. Before college, she knew how important winning a scholarship was for keeping out-of-pocket tuition costs down. Now she gets how everyday spending makes an impact on her wallet, too.
Learning the value of a dollar, how to keep a budget, and how to manage her money during college set her up for financial success after graduation. Best of all, it ensured that we won’t have to foot her bills well into the future.
Lisa Bigelow writes for Bold and is an award-winning content creator and mom who learned way too late how to save for college. Lisa has contributed to Little Bundle, CollegiateParent.com, Finovate, Finance Buzz, Life and Money by Citi, MagnifyMoney, Well + Good, Smarter With Gartner, Popular Science, and Cadre Insights. She lives with her family in Connecticut.
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