I will absolutely be the first to admit that if money is in front of me and appears “available”, I will spend it. I can save the most when I have something automatically debited from my check, taken straight into an investment, or habitually tucked away somewhere I cannot easily access or that has “dual-responsibility” access (read that as, my husband and I have to agree to spend it).
This presented a challenge to me when it comes to teaching my children to save. I give them allowance every week and I encourage (and let’s be honest, really do expect) them to save up for something larger instead of blowing it on little things each week. How could I expect them to do that knowing full well I wasn’t the best at it myself?
Well, obviously I am a visual person - see money = spend money. What if I used this to my advantage vs. my disadvantage? What if I could tough it out for just a few weeks and see the money add up right in front of my eyes? That should do it.
I decided we needed goals! All good goals start with … A plan! That is something I’m good at. If I map out a goal, nine times out of ten I will stick to it.
My youngest $5.00 per week – her goal was to save $50.00 for American Girl accessories. We told her this would take 10 weeks.
My oldest $10.00 per week – her goal was to save $250.00 for headphones. We told her this would take 25 weeks.
My goal was to save towards our 2015 summer vacation. I would like to have around $3,000.00. I don’t need the money until 18 months out. So, that is about $170.00 per month. I decided it would be easier to break it down per week, like the girls, and I would save $40.00 per week. It didn’t get me all the way to my goal, but very close.
Every week I pay them their allowance just like normal. Every week I take out $40.00 cash when I purchase groceries. Yes, in order to reconcile with the budget I did have to make some changes to allow this to happen. I clipped coupons, changed up my menu planning, and even squelched our “dining out” plan by a few bucks a week.*
We could have chosen to put our money into a savings account, but remember that visual thing? So we decided on a place to keep our money so that we could watch it add up. We made tracking charts so that we could mark each time we made a “deposit.” There are no penalties for withdrawal and the only reward is what is waiting for us at the other end.
So far we’ve stuck to our guns. We’re watching it add up and each week we count through and celebrate each step of our accomplishments.
It’s not rocket science, and it’s not some giant retirement savings plan, but it is our little lesson in life that we hope they remember long into adulthood – “Saving a little, can turn into a lot.”
*Looking for ways to find extra “savings money” in your budget? America Saves lists 54 Ways to Save Money. They’re easy changes you can make in your everyday living that can add up to remarkable savings!
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