The best financial lesson for kids…let them hear the word NO

We all want our children to become independent and financially literate.  Teaching them the value of a dollar can be quite difficult.  I have discovered that one of the best lessons I have taught my kids is by saying “No” more often.  But it isn’t just the “No” that they need.  They also need to know the why, and be given the opportunity to make their own decisions on need versus want.


I have two children, aged 10 and 11. They are both good kids, and I feel like we have done a really good job raising them to be polite and considerate.  That is why when they would ask for a special treat here and there, I was always happy to buy it for them within reason.  I didn’t realize that these little rewards, were teaching my kids a bad lesson.  They really never understood the cost of anything.


We have made budgeting a family affair and within a few months, I have seen a major change in my children especially.  Trust me, it was hard at first.  I wasn’t used to saying “No” quite that often.  And the mom guilt was in full swing on more than one occasion.  But I would always explain that it wasn’t in the budget.

When we did have some entertainment built into the budget, the kids would have to help make that decision and alter it if they wanted something different.  For example, one month we had a trip to the arcade built in for entertainment.  But then a movie came to the theaters that they felt they just had to go see.  Well,  my two kids debated the pros and cons to both. In the end, they decided to go to the movie because they got more hours of entertainment for the actual cost.  It was definitely a proud mommy moment!

Since we have been talking as a family, my kids have started using the phrases such as, “We should put that in the budget next month,” “Well, this really isn’t worth the money when we can get something better,” “Do I really want this?  Nope, I can live without it.”

There are still a few things that they feel they need, but I would still consider a want.  But, they are thinking about their choices.  This is a great first step into making better financial decisions as an adult.  They are taking ownership in some of the decisions that are being made, which then alleviates any of the mommy guilt.

Another lesson my children have learned is that of delayed gratification.  When they want something, they now have to think about the value of that item.  This may slow down their purchases.  In fact, we have had to build a few items into the budget which then makes the children wait a month before receiving the item.  And if they wait that long for something,, they truly do want it.


As adults, we need to slow down in our purchases.  We need to think of the actual value of the item we want to purchase and to weigh the pros and cons.  Sometimes we don’t get what we want right away, and that is OK.  It makes us appreciate it more in the end and feel good about our decision making process.  We need to tell ourselves “No” sometimes, because it may be so worth it.

No Financial Lesson

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