Your kids may not always do what you say but you’ll find they are really good at doing what you do. This innocently may be the reason that the bank of mom and dad is being pushed into the red.

From the time your children are able to process information, they observe you going to the shops and taking whatever you want off the shelves. Sometimes they’ll even hear you call home and say: “Is there anything else you’d like. Are you sure, I’d be happy to get it for you now…”

It’s no wonder children expect you buy what is appealing to them as well.

At The Money School we believe the quickest and easiest solution to this age-old problem is this: let them put the afore-mentioned items happily in your trolley. No problem! And then when you get to the cashier, you pull out their debit card and hand it to them and say are you sure you want to spend YOUR money on these items? Trust us – it works every time.

What’s not quite as easy is the work that you, as parents, need to put into educating your children about money before you are able to hand them that debit card. Luckily, we’ve put together some basic principles you can introduce in your home to get you started:

Kids age 3-5

At this age you want to introduce a jar system into your home with three labels – Save, Spend and Share. It’s important that the jars are see-through and that you deposit physical cash into the jars as children learn visually at that age and so they need to be able to see, touch and hold money they’ve received or earned (from doing basic chores around the home), before they get to spend their money at their favourite toy store.

Kids age 6-12

Once your child is ready, you can move them from the jar system, to an envelope system, where your ‘spend, save and share’ concept is carried through to an easy to manage and replicate system of placing money in envelopes, and a rough tally of income and expenditure per envelope can be jotted down onto the back of them for easy referral. You may then supplement this system with a debit card of their own, and ‘transfer’ money from their envelopes into a debit card so that they have that option too.

By the time your children are entering high school they need to open their own bank accounts and start managing more money. For example, you may decide to work out how much money you spend on their clothing in a given month or season and give them that money instead in order for them to start learning valuable real-life money lessons.

Remember, you’ve only got 5 years of them in high school before they leave home to study or work, and invariably start managing money on their own. This is why it’s critical that they have the opportunity to learn about money, and make mistakes and learn in a protected environment, rather than when they get their first pay cheque and are actively courted by retailers, lenders and banks for their business.

The Money School is hosting a workshop for parents about how to teach their kids how to manage money in Fourways on 2 July 2014. We have 10 seats available for Truth About Money blog readers (tickets valued at R250 per person). In order to stand in line to win tickets, please email with your details and a sentence or two on why you’d like to attend.

Author: Hayley Parry, The Money School