PTA Coffee Break: Teach money management skills with a simple game

March 24, 2011|By Kate Rogers

Parents got a fresh new way to approach their parenting goals in teaching children to form a thoughtful and healthy relationship with money on March 16.

Vicki Hoefle, Adlerian therapist, mother of five and creator of Parenting on Track (, delighted all present with her down-to-earth, proven method of teaching kids how to spend, save and give away their money.

Vicki's system is elegant in simplicity and profound in impact. As soon as a child is old enough not to put money in their mouth, she gives "a dollar for each year" each week. That would be $4 for a 4-year-old, $10 for 10-year-olds and so on.


In her family, cash distribution happens at a Sunday morning family meeting, and of course, helps encourage family attendance. At 12, she halves the amount because that's when children can start earning money doing things outside the home (walking dogs, watching the cat, etc.). At 14, the weekly stipend is completely eliminated. By that time the desire and experience of having money have been firmly established, and kids show themselves to be enormously resourceful when the funds are cut off.

Vicki emphasized the importance of giving kids their allotted money with no strings attached. It is for the child to determine what they want to do with it entirely.

"At first, they'll give it away to their friends," then buy too much candy, but eventually they become quite discriminating in what they buy.

When her eldest daughter wanted to buy a Coach bag in which to keep her new money, Vicki's upbeat response was, "OK!" Only in the store did it become apparent that the Coach bag would require years of saving. (Mom had remained cheerful and mute, on the sidelines.) The kid, on her own, then requested a trip to T.J.Maxx to pick up a cheaper model. Mom hadn't lectured or fought, or tried to control the situation in any way, yet the kid eventually figured out the unspoken lesson.

Vicki has some additional guidelines. A child should never be paid for chores done in the home, except for babysitting. We can't be both parents and employers. As parents, we should never deny a child the opportunity to pay for a dinner out. It gives joy to give and reinforces the child's self-esteem, resiliency and commitment to the community.

Also, the money shouldn't be "attached" to grades or other behaviors or accomplishments. She emphasized not to loan them money if they forget to bring it, and never to lecture them on their purchases.

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