Give them control of money. If kids don’t have control of money before adulthood, they learn that money will always be provided for them, that they don’t have to be responsible for their spending or their future. And when they finally get control of their own money, they apply those lessons, by spending liberally and not worrying about the future.
Instead, give your kids control of money. Take some money that you already have in your budget, and give them control of it. For example, if you currently spend $200 a month on eating out (to use a random figure), perhaps give your child control over $50 of that. And do the same for clothing and toy spending — don’t add to your budget, but allocate portions of your budget to them. Give them complete control over that money.
The result will probably be that they spend too much on frivolous stuff. At first. But when they want other things, they’ll have to learn to save for them, and cut back on other areas. Eventually, they’ll learn how to make decisions, through trial and error. It could take awhile, but it’s better they learn now than when they’re adults.
Teach them to save for money goals. Once they realise that there’s more to money than just spending on whatever their latest impulse is, they’ll want to buy something larger than the amount they have on hand. That’s when you teach them about savings goals.
“You want to buy an Xbox 360? Well, let’s find out how much that costs. Now that’s how much you’ll need to save. If you take $40 from your monthly budget, you could have that in 5 months. If you take $60 from your monthly budget, you could have it in a little over 3 months. But either way, that will mean cutting back on McDonald’s and buying little toys every weekend.”
You might also create a chart on the computer, that shows their goal, and little savings milestones along the way. That way they can get excited about watching their savings grow.