Teaching Money Management

I want my kids to learn money management now, while they’re still under our roof, where poor financial decisions are far less disastrous.

The Proverbs 31 woman set a great example in managing money (as well as a whole bunch of other things!) “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will not lack anything good“; if she had squandered the family’s hard-earned money, this would not be so. She must’ve been smart in how she spent money because she had enough to buy and plant a vineyard, make profitable business deals, had no fear of keeping her family clothed and fed, and she was still able to extend a helping hand to the poor! Whew!

So, how do we teach this to our kids?


With Kathryn, the first way we started teaching managing money was with jars labeled: “GIVE“,  “SAVE, and SPEND.” This was for any money earned or received as gifts. The first money (minimum of 10 percent) goes in the GIVE jar. Our suggestion was half of the remaining money in SAVE and half in SPEND, but we allowed her to choose. She could choose to move money from SPEND to SAVE, or from SAVE to GIVE, but never in the other order.

money jars

Ten-year-old Kathryn is a saver, and she has quite a sizable savings account for her age. We have recently given her access to view her account online as another first step towards managing her money. We are still in control of the account, and what she can do is very limited. But it makes her feel important and encourages her to continue her habits of saving.

Sixteen-year-old Lindsey, on the other hand, is a spender. If there is money in her pocket, it disappears — fast! This could become a big problem a few years down the road if we don’t help her learn now. Earlier this year, we gave her a prepaid card; she uses this like a debit card but she cannot overspend, so there is no worry of overdrafts or added fees. We set the amount on the card, and she can log on to an account online to see where that money is going. This way, she will begin to realize that she really did spend $30 on Starbucks last month, whereas if she pays in cash, she won’t remember that.

The money on this card is not an allowance or extra money; this is the amount we have budgeted for her part of our family’s clothing and personal care budget — but now it’s her responsibility. We have spelled out exactly what she is now responsible for: clothes, shoes, hair products, toiletries, jewelry, etc. If she blows this money on Frappucinos, she may not have money for deodorant — but we won’t bail her out, and she’ll learn! We started this for three months at a time, but she was spending it far too quickly, so for now, it’s monthly. At some point, once she is managing her budget well, we’d like to stretch this out to six months or a year, which will require even more self-control and responsible budgeting on her part!

Oh! An important caveat on Lindsey’s spending: though she’s responsible for buying her clothes, they must still pass the Dad-approval test for modesty or they go back to the store!

With Brandon, we didn’t have as much opportunity to teach these things in an everyday sort of way (since he lived most of the time with his mom and stepdad), but we did discuss them. He’s already said he’ll be talking to me when it’s time to buy a house because I’ve done it so doggone many time, so I hope that means he might listen to us about other finance-related things, too.

There’s just so much to do in this journey called parenting, isn’t there!?!

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Money management can be so hard to teach, especially when “the other kids” seem to have so much more freedom to spend than mine do. We use a similar method, just envelopes instead of jars. And now we make frequent trips to the bank to deposit the savings funds. I have a saver and a spender too! But the spender is starting to get it… as he sees his little sister’s account grow faster than his. Seeing the accounts grow has also encouraged my kids to seek work. My boy doesn’t like yard work, but he does good work when… Read more »


I think that giving a teen their own budget for clothes and toiletries is a great idea. It gives them a realistic picture of how much everything costs. If they want that expensive pair of jeans, sure, but they have to make sacrifices elsewhere. Real life!


Money management skills are more important now than ever especially when more young adults are starting off their lives already in debt (statistically) and they have grown up watching us use debit and credit cards and could potentially believe that there is a magic place somewhere that just doles out the money! We sent our oldest to a weekend money management course when he was about 13 that taught about investments, the curse of debt, mortgages, interest rates, savings, etc. As soon as he got a job (at 14), we set up a separate account where he had to put… Read more »

Nicole @ TaulmanTimes

Our 16 year old daughter has to have a job for ALL of her recreational monies. It is also a requirement for her to be able to have a car. (She was given a cheapo car, that constantly needs minor repairs, from her grandparents, to go back and forth to school and work). She has to pay all of her own gas, insurance and repairs. If he car breaks down and she hasn’t saved money to pay the repairs, she’ll be riding the bus and back to driving our car to/from work at the rate of 20 cents per mile.… Read more »


Great post and great ideas! I wasn’t taught anything about money while growing up, and I’ve paid the price. I like the idea of the older ones having to spend on their own the budgeted money for their wants/necessities, with parents’ approval, of course. Thank you, Jamie!


What a great way to teach children about money management! I like how you use the jars to make the concept visual to the children.


Love the idea of the prepaid card that shows exactly where the money went.


Great post Jamie. Teaching money management skills to your kids is so important and seems to get neglected in schools. Giving them responsibility for their own budgets is a top tip. One thing which really helped us was to sit each of them down (separately) and outline the things we would pay for and what we expected them to pay for out of their allowance/spending money. We also explained how much we had to spend on clothes on a monthly basis, and then anything else was up to them. We encouraged them to get jobs early and it has really… Read more »


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