Tag Archive for kids

Budgeting for Piggy Bank Savers

When should a commitment to financial giving start?

I think that giving back financially is a good discipline that, done correctly, increases the appreciation for what you have, and helps you feel empowered in your ability to help others.

My friend Peggy Duvette was recently telling me about her daughter Suada, who last year, at 8 years old was choosing to support her school with a donation. Suada had taken some of her money to her school fair to play games and buy things. When she finished the day and had some money left over, she spontaneously told her mom that she wanted to give the rest as a donation to the school. I was impressed by Suada’s generosity and even her awareness that her school might need to be supported. Peggy said that her own role as Executive Director (which also means “head fund raiser”) for a non-profit (Wiser.org., The Social Network for Sustainability) meant that Suada has had more exposure to the notion of giving, but Peggy has also set up a system 3 years ago that helps Suada budget her money between current needs and future ones, for herself and others.

Teaching good financial habits is something that parents can start early with their children: the gift of a piggy bank at age 6 (or so, kids do develop the concept of money at different rates) is also an opportunity to talk about money being divided into that you might spend today and that money that you save for future needs. Peggy had gotten a piggy bank for Suada, where every time she received money, she would automatically split it between spending and saving. A year later, she incorporated the concept of donating.

Basic budgeting is a critical skill for keeping your financial house in order, and starting early makes it seem more natural later.  Dave Ramsey, the popular financial guru, recommends an “envelope system” to budget the monthly expenses for key categories.

While your kindergartner might not have “rent”, “clothing”, and “gas” expense categories, setting aside money to “save” separate from what they may “spend” is a good start.  To get them started thinking about giving early on, how about encouraging them to put a dime into the “giving” envelope every time they put a dollar in one of the other categories?

Of course, what gives the “envelope system” part of its power is its tangibility.  The money for the month for the category is in the envelope, and when you’ve spent it, it’s gone.  That tangibility is great for kids, too.  Only they get to watch their money grow, not disappear.  If you would like to buy one,

http://www.bloggingawaydebt.com/2007/11/six-piggy-banks-that-can-help-teach-kids-money-management-skills/  lists 6 different ones.

But making one can mean there’s more money to put in it.  It can also be a fun family project, and needn’t be complex:

Kids and Money, Part 1, “Giving”

Yesterday, I participated in a workshop for families organized by financial planner Cheryl Young and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.  This was a new project for them, and for the first time being offered, I thought they struck a good balance between content for the kids with activities to keep them engaged, and content for the parents.

The two-hour program featured:

  •  A brief introduction
  • A testimonial from one of the parents, talking about the types of volunteer experiences she and her kids had engaged in, along with some cues about what activities might be “too early” for some of the younger ones
  • Michelle Berg, community relations and events coordinator from the Second Harvest Food Bank, spoke about her own experience as a client of the food pantry growing up, and the alarming level of need (nearly 10% of the people in these counties, nominally one of the richest parts of the world, used the services). SHFB is able to leverage donations of imperfect/hard-to-sell fruits and vegetables, plus relationships with major grocery chains to really stretch their resources, providing lots of meals (100,000/day (!), 45 million pounds/year(!!!)) at just 50 cents per meal.
    After the talk and a very short video about an elementary school student  who organized a food drive  (1:50 YouTube video), we did a short food-sorting project, helping to pack healthy snack bags.  Our group of about 30 people (more kids than adults) made short work of the packing project, and had a snack break of our own.
  • Jennifer Yeagley, the Executive Director from My New Red Shoes, described the importance of letting poor and homeless children start school with the sense of pride and belonging that comes from a new outfit and school supplies.  Recipients get a pair of new sneakers, a $50 Old Navy gift card, school supplies appropriate to their age, and a card from a volunteer who helped make and pack the gift bag.  The kids split off to decorate cards for the bags (which ended up being a favorite activity of the day for most of them).
  • Meanwhile, the adults learned a bit more about Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the 5 major initiatives for our community.  Gina Dalma, the Program Officer for SVCF’s education initiative spoke about the inequality in the schools in our counties, as well as the hope for advancing the laggard schools with appropriate leadership and teacher training.  She answered questions from the very education-focused parents.
  • I got a chance to describe my book project, and appreciated the friendly reception for what was essentially the first public presentation of the work in progress.
  • Cheryl Young finished off with a plea to the kids to engage their parents in conversation about what they could do.  I was impressed that even as a financial planner, Cheryl felt it was more important to have “Give” come before “Save” in the workshop series.  I think her comments and mine struck a very similar tone, even without any advance planning.
  • Marie Young, Director of Donor Learning and Engagement of SVCF, prepared packets for the adults, with a bibliography of family-friendly books on giving, some tips for starting conversations, and a reprint from a Scholastic Family article, as well as a bunch of SVCF background information.  The kids’ goody bags were more fun:  a t-shirt and stuffed animal from Cheryl, and a pen that looked like a fork from Second Harvest Food Bank.
Overall, it was a nice event, engaging both kids in the 6-12 year old range, plus their parents, to learn more about the needs of the local community, and the organizations that are helping to fulfill those needs, and what they can do to contribute.

Volunteering Ideas for 5 – 9 year olds

You would love to get your elementary school child involved in some service projects, but it seems as if liability concerns have outweighed family involvement, and many non-profit organizations are not willing to accept volunteers under the age of 13.  What sorts of activities can you do with your pre-teen?

Younger children can often bring enthusiasm to a project.  They may not have the physical strength or coordination, long attention spans or the attention to detail required for some projects, and they shouldn’t be involved in projects that involve physical risk or unsupervised contact with outsiders.  Parental involvement is practically a must, though some school, church, or scouting groups may enable sharing the supervisory responsibility.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Arts and Crafts projects:  Making greeting cards or holiday decorations for people that might otherwise be forgotten (soldiers or people in nursing homes, hospitals, or prisons).  Involving others in the crafting process can be part of the volunteer service as well.
  • Environmental:  Under the watchful eye of a parent, adult leader or older youth, children can participate in picking up trash, beach cleanups, planting seedlings, and removing invasive plants up to the limits of their attention span.
  • Senior Citizens:  Visiting senior citizen in a nursing home or their own homes can be mutually beneficial for the elders and children.  Game playing, reading together, or helping out with simple household tasks are things that younger children can do to provide stimulation, conversation and practical assistance for seniors who might otherwise be isolated.
  • Hospitalized children:  A visit from a new friend of the same age can be a great way to cheer up a patient.
  • Food Closets:  Children with adult supervision can help sort, bag and box food donations for distribution.
  • Fund Raising:  Walk-a-thon, lemonade stands, coin drives, can drives or car washes
    As concerns about children going door-to-door have increased, fund raising through neighborhood pledge or gift solicitations or cookie, popcorn or magazine subscription sales have declined.  Still, parents can be involved in the solicitations while the children participate in walking or selling lemonade, or encouraging relatives to share canned food.
Another great resource for ideas is Jenny Friedman’s The Busy Family’s Guide to Volunteering:  Doing Good Together
Do you have other suggestions?  Please add them in the comments! (Comment button is in top header, underneath the post title.)