When it comes to teaching children to save money, there are a dozen different ways to do it (and I talk about why you should in a separate post here). I firmly believe in balance, though, whether for your children or for yourself.
My children have had piggy banks for pretty much their entire lives, even though they’ve only recently started to understand what exactly money is (beyond a fun thing to feed the piggy). As their piggy banks became a bit too full with unused change, I decided it was time to take our education a bit further and help them designate what coins should go where.
Note: while this post is not sponsored by the Moon Jar company, I do have Amazon affiliate links within it – all this means is I may make commission on purchases made after clicking my links, this is no way impacts my recommendations or your purchase price.
Enter: the Moon Jar
What is a Moon Jar?
“Moon jars” are Spend/Save/Share jars meant to promote financial literacy. When I first read about moon jars, I knew this was something I could create on my own, but I also believe in supporting other small businesses whenever possible, so I opted to purchase an actual moon jar and I’m so glad I did!
Moon jars were first created in February 2012 by a group of three people who very much have the same mentality as you and I – living a thrifty life means living a better life. You can read more about their story here.
As an adult, you too will benefit by adopting a moon jar mentality. Because children often learn financial habits by watching their parents, you can pass along your good habits to your children while improving your own financial situation!
Creating a Realistic Family Budget
Teaching my children to live thrifty as I do is very important to me, even if they are only 2 and 3 years old. The development of a realistic family budget is a hallmark of financial health, and this is the first step to implement when adopting a moon jar mentality.
You can read more about exactly how to create a budget (and see examples of mine!) by clicking here.
Having a budget can help you to make better financial decisions regarding spending, saving and giving. It can also help you to identify ways to cut back on spending so that more money can be allocated for saving and giving. Some people approach budgeting from the standpoint of being hopeful. For example, you may hope that your income would be at a certain rate, but if you look at the historical pattern, you will see that your income may fall short of that hope. Being realistic about income as well as expenses can help you to more effectively manage your finances.
Ask Kids to Contribute Their Ideas for Budgetary Savings
Part of the moon jar mentality involves cutting back on spending so that more funds can be used for savings and giving. Your kids directly contribute to spending, and this means that they should be included in a family conversation regarding budgetary savings. Talk to your kids about how they use money by keeping lights on in rooms they are not in, spending money at restaurants instead of enjoying meals at home and more. When kids are included in the conversation, they often are willing to contribute personal effort to saving money for the family. In addition, they may even come up with some great ways to save money that you have not yet thought about.
Make Savings a Habit
While spending is one aspect of the moon jar mentality, saving money is another that requires special attention. Saving money helps families to pay for unexpected expenses as well as to make large purchases. For example, the family may be saving for a new house, for a summer vacation or for a new car. Some parents may prefer to avoid talking to kids about their exact bank account balance. However, you can consider creating a progress chart or graph. Each week or month, you can update it so that your kids can see the progress the family is making toward achieving its goals.
If you’re anything like me, you probably LOVE garage sales, right? My family goes just about every weekend when we have the time! And of course my kids want toys each and every time. Rather than “spoiling” them and risk my house filling up with clutter, I only let them get toys if they have enough in their “spend” section. They are also allowed to pull from their “give/save” fund *IF* they are buying a toy to gift to someone else. Heh I will admit that my son tries to talk me into allowing him to buy presents to “gift” to his sister (when really they’re for him) but after a short conversation, he usually concedes…usually. He is a toddler after all. 😉
Allocating Funds for Charitable Giving
Charitable giving is an area that many people fall short on. You may love the idea of giving money to a charity regularly, but if you’re still living paycheck-to-paycheck, I get that it can be a struggle. Start by trying to save your leftover change at the end of each day and go from there – you’d be surprised how easy it’ll become to grow that habit of giving!
When you adopt a moon jar mentality and bring the whole family in on the efforts to cut back on spending and to save money, you may find that additional funds are freed up that can be used for charitable giving. You should also include your children on this, such as by asking them about causes they are most interested in and letting them contribute to the act of actually making a financial donation to a relevant organization.
And if you find yourself still shaking your head going “Okay, Amber, great idea, but I seriously don’t have any extra cash to give!” then I very much encourage you to read this post on why I consider giving to be thrifty – if you can’t donate cash, donate time and volunteer with your kids!