How to teach my child to save without turning him or her into a miser?

A friend of mine used to complain about her 14-year-old son being a selfish miser.

Yes, a miser at 14!

Her son asked, “Mum, can I go to see a movie with my friends?”

She answered, “Sweetheart, movie tickets are too expensive. It’s much cheaper to watch the DVD or HBO at home, don’t you think so?”

I remember my own teenage experience when my mother taught me that every single cent I spent is the “blood and sweat” of my Dad’s hard-earned money.

By 16, I was a nerd in school with hardly any friends.

I also never invited to any parties.

My only social contact was with younger kids who I tutored.

Well, I started giving tuition when I was 12 years old. and I didn’t stop tuition till I was 25.

The point is teaching your child how to save money is not enough.

It’s teaching your child how to evaluate the values of that spending from his/her own perspectives, under a controlled environment.


Here’s 3 ways on how:

1) Set A Budget Within A Time Frame Together With Your Child That Both of You Are Agreeable And Comfortable

For example, My husband & I agreed on a weekly pocket-money allowance when each of our children turned 10.

The weekly allowance will be given every week for the whole week and it’ll cover all expenses like transport, school meals and leisure activities.

Instead of a long lecture on what he could do and couldn’t, we’ll our child decide for themselves.

Once, my son wanted to buy a birthday present for one of his classmates.

We went down to Tanglin Mall to get the present.

He went straight to a video game shop and took a new popular game off the shelf.

He came to me with the most excited smile on his face and said, “Mum, can I get this for my friend’s birthday?”

I remembered staring down at his innocent and enthusiastic face, I gently answered, “Darling, of course, you can!  Do you have $70 with you now?”

Instantly, his face turned into disappointment and confusion.

2) Educate Him To Evaluate “The Values He Wants” Versus “What He Can Afford With His Budget”

My son then learned to calculate the math.

He realized that he could never afford to buy a $70 birthday present for all his 42 classmates within a year even if he were to forgo all his school meals.

He ended up choosing a $10 T-shirt folded in a $2 box.

Since then, my son has never asked us to shop for any of his friends’ birthday presents again.

Furthermore, he does not ever run out of pocket money.


3) Be Patient And Give Your kids Space To Manage Their “Own” Money

For example, after every Chinese New Year, my husband and I will encourage the kids to save by giving them some extra incentive.

For every dollar they put into the bank from their red packets, we will also  top-up a dollar.

We do not influence the kids on how much they put away into the bank and we respect their choice when they wish to spend some of the money.

In my experience, both my kids have never spent all their money at one go.  They always save a major portion of their money.

In summary, empower your kids to save money with a sound mindset by understanding the values generated from the use of money. This is more important than the act of saving money itself.

It’s also important to teach your kids that human wants are unlimited but supply is always limited.

The earlier they get to understand this fundamental economic theory, the better they will be at managing their financials way into adulthood.

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