On a recent trip to Target I heard several kids asking their parents if they could buy a toy, a shirt, a game, and so on. The kids were relentless in their pursuit of acquiring something, anything. Their parents were equally relentless in the denial of their children’s wants. This is a battle that will be waged for years to come.
My daughter wasn’t immune to acquiring new toys. She had a strong desire to own as many My Little Ponies and Breyer Horses as she could. Her mom and I had to tell her no quite often. When she’d get upset, we called it the Green-Eyed Monster from the Bernstein Bears Book: The Bernstein Bears and the Green-Eyed Monster.
When she was five years old, we gave her a weekly allowance of $1. When she received her first dollar, she wanted to visit the toy store to buy a very large Breyer Horse. I knew how this was going to turn out as her dollar was going to fall about $45 short of her goal. She was not going to be happy. When we arrived at the toy store, she pointed to the horse she wanted to buy and together we looked at the price tag – instant tears. She was upset because she couldn’t buy the horse, and, worse, it would take her months to save enough money to buy it. It was a great learning experience.
Her allowance taught her how to save money for buying things she wanted. More importantly, she stopped asking us if she could get a new toy every time we went shopping. If she had the money, she could buy what ever she wanted. In addition to saving her money, she started to give some of it away to her Church. She was learning the gifts of saving money, living within her means, and giving money away to help others. As a young adult, she has kept these important habits.
Here are a few suggestions to help you turn your child into a super-saver and smart spender.
- Give them an allowance. A few dollars a week will allow them to start saving money and give them a sense of ownership.
- Establish a savings account. It’s easy to open a savings account. Since they’re young, you’ll need to be listed on the account as well. They will, or should, get excited to see their account balance grow. I still remember my first savings account at a local bank, I was thrilled to see it climb above $60.
- Let them spend their money. If they have $50 in their wallet, let them spend $50 at the store. At some point, they’ll get tired of spending their own money on things that won’t last. It will also be painful for them to see their bank account get depleted.
- Encourage them to give money away. Let them decide on how best to donate their money. They can decide when and where it makes sense to help others. The joy of giving brings happiness to all.
- Teach them to invest. After they have saved a few dollars, teach them how to buy a stock or mutual fund. Let them identify a few companies they have an interest in owning like Apple, Facebook, Coke, Pepsi, McDonald’s, etc. They’ll take pride in their ownership. They’ll also learn about the stock market, the economy, and investor behavior.
- Invest for growth. Young investors should invest 100% of their funds in stocks or growth-oriented investments.
- Open a Roth IRA. Once your children start working and earning income, open a Roth IRA. A summer job might pay them a few thousand dollars, so contribute a portion of their salary to a Roth. Kids can invest 100% of their income or $6,000, whichever is less, per year to an IRA. Contributing to an IRA at age 18 will pay huge dividends when they get older. In fact, your kids can let their money grow tax-free for more than 50 years! Investing $1,000 per year in the Investment Company of America Mutual Fund (AIVSX) for 50 years is now worth $2.14 million! Not bad for a summer job.
It’s unlikely your five-year-old will ask you to open a Roth IRA or set up a dollar cost averaging program. However, giving your child money to spend, save and give away will establish lifelong benefits. It will change their narrative and make your trips to the store more enjoyable.
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. ~ 1 Timothy 4:12
July 9, 2019
Bill Parrott, CFP®, CKA® is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose.
Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation.
 Morningstar Office Hypothetical: June 30, 1969 to June 30, 2019.