Yes, the cost of living is on the up and the last thing you need is your child chanting “I want an iPhone! I want an iPhone!” When I look around me and see the way my friends are dealing with their children, I know I’ve done something right. Here are a few tips to ensure that your kids grow up understanding the value of money and knowing that they don’t need it to be happy!

1. Start young. Let them understand the concept of money at a very early age. When my son was two, he asked for one of those really expensive cars kids can ride. At the time, it cost around $300. I could’ve stepped out and bought it for him but instead, I explained to him that he had to “save” for it. So, every few days or so, we’d add a few dollars to his piggy bank. Nine months later, he happily took his savings to the toy store and bought his first car! While it was me who paid for it, I had the chance to teach him a lesson about saving and patience, and it really paid off. He appreciated that car and took care of it as long as he could fit in it.

2. Practice what you preach. If you want your kids to understand the value of money, don’t go throwing it around like confetti. At the same time, don’t display signs of envy and jealousy if your neighbor gets a new car or your sister remodeled her home. Kids are essentially sponges, and will mimic your attitude towards money.

3. Spend time with your kids. I know so many parents that leave their kids with the nanny and make up for their absence by buying them all sorts of expensive gadgets. My son was being bullied at school once by a boy that picked on him every chance he could get while also constantly showing off iPads, iPhones, and tons of other gadgets. I explained to my son that something is not right in the boy’s home and if you get close enough, you will figure it out. A couple of weeks later, and after lots of efforts on my son’s part, my son told me that the boy lived with his nanny and grandmother since his parents were constantly traveling. Mystery solved.

4. Get them involved in charity work. Let your kids know that there are many people less fortunate than them. If you can’t take them to volunteer at an NGO, make them go through their clothes and toys for things to give away to the needy. This instills a sense of fortune in them as well as a responsibility towards their community. Every season, I see my little girl trying on all of her clothes to know what he should give away and once she’s done, she always tells me how great she feels that someone out there will have new clothes that she was otherwise just stocking up in her closet.

5. Give them cash. While this may seem counterintuitive, it really does work. Give your kids money. It could be pocket money, a weekly allowance, or even a payment for chores well done. Then, teach them how to spend and save this money. At the same time, you will be teaching them the concept of “giving” as you pass on cash to them. I’ve set up small bank accounts for my children and nothing makes me happier than when one of them hands me a 20,000LL note and says “Mom, please deposit this for me today”. This means they have a plan and they are saving for it.

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