Teaching our children generosity not only helps build compassion, but actually makes us happier. Creating Save, Spend and Give jars is a great way to teach even young kids the value of money and how good it feels to give to others.
My husband helped our older daughter set up Save, Spend and Give jars so she could learn how to manage her own money. She used three basic mason jars, writing out the labels herself. She then divided up the money she had saved from birthdays and holiday gifts into the three jars. We also started giving her a weekly allowance so she can consistently keep up the practice of deciding how much to save, spend and give.
Research shows it’s important to help kids build money management skills so they can “learn patience, delayed gratification and the value of self-control.” Encouraging them to give their own money to help others teaches them we are all responsible for one another, both in our in-person actions and financial giving.
Talk About the Power of Giving
There are a few ways we can talk to our children about the importance of giving money to people and causes in need.
One way is through gratitude and recognizing not all people have the same financial means. That might mean they don’t have enough to eat or don’t have a home. It’s the responsibility of those who have more than enough to help people in need.
Another way is to ask them how it makes them feel when they help others. Ask them to tell you about a time they helped or cared for someone else. Maybe they delivered a treat to a neighbor or wrote a Kindness Card to a grandparent. Now ask them how it felt to do something nice for someone else. Research shows when we help others, whether through our actions or through charitable giving, it makes us happier.
Talking about money goes a long way in encouraging our littles to be generous when it comes to financial giving. One fascinating study found that kids “…were 18 percent more likely to donate money to a charitable organization if their parents had made any donation of their own in the past year.” If a parent had made a donation and talked about giving, that kid was 33 percent more likely to donate.
Let Your Child Decide Where To Donate
Follow your child’s lead when deciding where to donate their money. Encourage them to really think about a cause they’d like to support. It’s a wonderful way to discover more about what’s important to them.
My older daughter wanted to do something with art. She also loves to dance. Together we chose CoachArt, an organization started in honor of our friend’s father focused on helping kids with chronic illnesses through arts and sports.
My younger daughter wanted to help horses, so together we picked a local charity called Xenephon Therapeutic Riding Center, which harnesses the therapeutic benefits of horse riding for disabled children.
Let Your Child Decide How Much to Give
While there are no rules around how much money should go into each jar, you can suggest the simple guideline of depositing 10 percent of the starting amount into the Give Jar. If your child wants to give more or less than that, that’s fine too. The idea is for them to learn to manage their own money in a way that feels good for them
Our older daughter was very excited to use her own money to give to a cause she picked. She counted the money in her Give Jar, which amounted to $10.76, and decided to donate all of it. Afterwards we watched a video about CoachArt — the organization she’d chosen — and helped her donate online. Admittedly, she was a bit confused by the fact that she gave her parents the actual Give Jar cash and we in turn paid by credit card! We’re sure she’ll grasp the credit card concept soon enough.