A few weeks ago I was in a bookstore when I overheard a grandmother advising her granddaughter on how she should spend her money.
I didn’t mean to eavesdrop (or maybe I did), but I was impressed by the level of maturity of this girl. She couldn’t have been more than 12 or 13 years old.
What really caught my attention was when she started talking about the money she wanted to hold off spending so she could donate it to charity.
At that point I just had to say something.
I struck up a conversation with the grandmother and asked how the girl earned her money.
It turns out that she and a friend sold lemonade and planned on sending some of the money they made to a charity in Africa which helps educate children.
What a breath of fresh air.
We want to teach our kids to appreciate money and understand how to spend wisely as well as save.
However, you may also want to talk about charity.
Here are three tips for teaching kids about donating.
1. I want to help! My oldest son always wants to lend a hand. Even if I don’t need help, I always try to let him give a bit of support. It makes him feel grown up and accomplished. Let’s take that enthusiasm and encourage our kids to lend a hand to someone in need. A donation doesn’t necessarily have to be a dollar amount. This past year our kids noticed so many instances of charitable giving following Superstorm Sandy. Donating clothes, food, even offering up a warm bed and hot shower to someone in need is a form of giving.
2. Find out what is important to them. Ask your children what they would like to make better in this world. The answer may surprise you and it may give some direction to what type of charitable organization they want to support. Once that is established, talk to them about how they can help. For example, just the other day my son told me about a little boy he noticed being very mean to other kids. My son told me he wanted to tell the boy to stop it. He wanted to stand up to the bully. Even this is an act of giving. Who knows, he may join a club one day at school dedicated to stopping bullies.
3. Save, spend and give. Finally, as in the case of the little girl I mentioned, there is always the opportunity to teach financial responsibility through charitable giving. A friend of mine uses three glass jars with her young son — one for saving money, one for spending money and one for putting money aside for donating. This approach is very much in line with the website Three Jars. Another great resource for donors is the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. Finally, older kids may start to understand the tax benefits of charitable giving.
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