I’ve known for some time that my daughter at the ripe old age of 8 is a saver. But it really struck me as the Christmas presents were opened how that trait really showed itself.
My 9-year-old niece wanted the cash register with the scanner and credit card while my daughter wanted the same company’s ATM bank that scans cash and gives a running balance. One child is a spender and one is a saver. Does it really matter that you know where your child fits? And how do you figure that out?
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Why Knowing a Child’s Money Personality Matters
I know they are only kids. But figuring out a child’s money personality is the first step in determining how best to teach them about money. Each personality needs guidance in different areas, so knowing where your child fits will help you focus on the right areas.
A spender needs help allocating money to savings whether short-term or long-term. They might need encouragement in the form of earning interest or a small match on their savings so that they can see their money grow. Spenders can also need help finding a bargain – help in understanding that waiting a week might help them get the item they want on sale. The key principle to teach is delayed gratification so that they can develop new habits.
A saver also needs help allocating money but in a different way. They need to be taught (and encouraged) to set aside money to spend – and then to actually spend it.
Teaching them how sales work may help them be more comfortable spending money because they are spending less than if the item were full-price. The key principle to teach savers is that money should be used for things besides savings.
The goal for both money personalities is to get a better balance. It is really unlikely that the underlying personality trait will change (just as it is will other traits), but moderation is a wonderful lesson to learn. So…what type of money personality does your child have?
Finding a Child’s Money Personality
It is easier than you might think to figure out a child’s money personality. While there are dozens of quizzes available for adults to figure it out (for themselves and their significant others), there aren’t really any that apply to kids. But you don’t need a test to know how your child thinks. In fact, you may already know whether your child is a spender or a saver. But if not, consider these questions along with your other experiences.
What do they do with money that they receive if left to their own choices? This could be from an allowance, from a job or from gifts. Do they spend it all or do they save it? It could be that they are able to strike a balance on their own although this is less likely with younger kids.
If your child does not have money to deal with regularly, how do they handle other things like candy or snacks? My 5-year-old son wants to eat it all as fast as we will let him. He does not want to save stuff for later. My saver daughter handles treats the same way as her money – she saves it if she can. For the 5-year-old this may be a function of his age, but his sister saved stuff even at the age of 5.
If your child is given a choice to have something now – like a small toy they spot in the discount store – or to wait for a bigger item later – what do they choose? This may seem like a no-brainer – won’t most kids choose the immediate fix? Maybe. But it is still worth asking the question.
Got your child figured out? Take that information and use it to help your child in their money education. Remember – it’s about moderation! Don’t try to make your spending child into a saver or vice versa. Just use the new knowledge to get them to better habits – and well on the way to a solid financial education.
Jennifer Peek is a CPA and mother of two. She writes about all aspects of kids and money at her website, http://www.money-and-kids.com. Get even more information on kids and their money personalities at http://www.money-and-kids.com/money-personality.html