Saving Money: Tips for Raising Saving-Savvy Kids You may not have known it, but last week was America Saves Week, an effort coordinated by the Consumer Federation of America's America Saves campaign and the America Savings Education Council designed to shine a light on the importance of saving money.

They've got their work cut out for them: Seven out of 10 Americans aren't saving enough, according to the Employee Benefits Research Institute. But it's not just today's workers who aren't socking away enough for retirement. New research from financial education site Doughmain.com shows that our kids aren't getting the message to save, either.

And here's the rub. It's not that we parents don't understand that it's our responsibility to teach our children to save -- 81% of Doughmain's survey respondents said as much. We're just not doing it.

"It's kind of like the plumber having the leaky pipe. Sometimes we don't do what we say we're going to do," says Doughmain founder Ken Damato.

Why? I have one hypothesis. I'm not one to be crabby about technology, but all this swiping, online banking, and mobile depositing is hiding some important nuts and bolts from our kids. How do you teach your kids the value of a dollar -- with compound interest -- in the new (and low-interest) world we're living in? I have a few tips:

• Set a good example. It's hard in this economy to save money. I know that. But even those few dollars you put away each month can serve as a lesson to your children. Talk to them about how you find money to save. Next time you pass up a splurge while you're with them -- whether it's a latte or a new throw pillow for the couch -- explain that you did it because you can't have everything you want and money in the bank too.

• Follow through.
If you tell them you're not buying anything extra at the grocery store because you need to save money, then fold in front of the ice cream freezer, you're not doing them any favors. Rather, you're teaching them that goals can be abandoned on a whim. The same goes for weekly allowance. If you forget, or don't have the appropriate cash on hand, the underlying message is that bills don't have to be paid on time. Instead, get them involved in money management. Show them how coupons help you save, and consider offering a bounty on each one that they find for something on your shopping list. Explain to them how 401(k) accounts use automatic paycheck withdrawals to facilitate saving, then show them how they can do the same by automatically earmarking some of their allowance for saving rather than spending. (And give them small bills to make this even easier.)

• Speak their language. This is the tablet and smartphone generation. They may never see a paper statement in their lifetime if they don't want to. So show them how you bank online, and how the little bits of money you've put away have added up. (My kids like to see how their 529 accounts, also trackable online, are growing.) Then set them up with a savings account that they can monitor on their own, and other online tools like Mint.com or Doughmain that can help them track their spending and learn about money in a tech-savvy way. Finally, make the lessons fun. One idea, from Damato: a contest to see who can guess closest to the cost of family activities. Include the whole shebang -- gas, tolls, lunch, entrance fees to the museum.

• Offer incentives. Only 38% of the Doughmain respondents are matching their children's savings efforts. But it's an easy way to give them a little push in the right direction, and it doesn't have to cost a fortune. You don't even need to match dollar for dollar -- 50 or 25 percent is plenty.

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Gary Johnstone

There are some new websites out there that aim to teach kids financial responsibility through real experience. On KidsCash (www.kidsca.sh), parents can use PayPal as a method of direct deposit to put their kids' allowance or birthday money onto the website. Then, when their kids log in, they can choose to either save the money, to spend it immediately in the marketplace (lots of toys, games, iTunes cards, etc.), or to donate it to charity. Each transaction must be approved by a parent, so that they are still in the loop, but really, the kids are in charge here.

June 25 2012 at 2:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scarge

I know I'm one of the guilty parties who doesn't follow through with teaching/including my kids in most of the household financials. There does seem to be a predestined personality factor involved in the ability to save...I have 4 children, all brought up the same, and some are phenomenal at saving for a much desired item, and for some, the money burns a hole in there pockets. Seeing the direct consequences in their lives seems to make the best impact. For example, it really didn't take them long to learn how to budget their prepaid cellphone minutes. I give them a small amount of Tracfone minutes monthly, and when they are used, it becomes their problem. Was one of the fastest lessons I've seen them learn and prepaid has been a very practical tool! It's very difficult to teach kids the theory without the practical application.

March 28 2012 at 5:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ayaz Ahmad

says that its really nice and informative blog i read it and impressed from it so i would like to appreciate you on this and keep it up

March 06 2012 at 7:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Greg Brooks ME

Good article, I have not been paying allowance consistently at the same time/day each month till now.

March 06 2012 at 6:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Greg Brooks ME

Good article, I have not been paying allowance consistently at the same time/day each month till now.

March 06 2012 at 6:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
betty

many don't teach any manners either.. just go to any big store and watch

March 05 2012 at 11:52 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
betty

Many arn't teaching those kids any manners either... Just go in any Walmart and it's there to see.

March 05 2012 at 11:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
betty

Many arn't teaching those kids any manners either... Just go in any Walmart and it's there to see.

March 05 2012 at 11:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
etay

We are using www.bankaroo.com to teach our kids about money and making smart financial decisions as well as tracking the kids funds and allowances from the web and our mobile devices (http://bit.ly/bankaroo-iOS).

March 05 2012 at 11:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
crossaddicted21

Of course they are not teaching them about saving and why should they. What they are learning these days is that the government will take care of them all their lives and supply all of their needs.
A cradle to grave entitlement society is what is being taught.

March 05 2012 at 10:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply