Spare Change Teaches Decision-making


By Kate Rogers, Special to the Independent

Parents learned a fresh approach to teaching children about money from therapist and mother Vicki Hoefle during last Wednesday’s Coffee Break presentation.

Hoefle’s method of teaching kids how to spend, save and give away their money is elegant in its simplicity and profound in its impact.  As soon as a child is old enough not to put money in their mouth, she gives “a dollar for each year” each week. That would be $4 for the four-year-old, $10 for those aged 10 and so on. In her family, cash distribution happens at a Sunday morning family meeting, and of course helps encourage family attendance.  At age 12, she halves the amount as that is the time the child can start earning money outside the home. At 14, the weekly stipend is eliminated.  By then, the desire and experience of having money is firmly established and kids prove enormously resourceful when the funds are cut off, she said.

Hoefle emphasized the value of allowing the child to determine the stipend’s use. When her daughter set her sights on a Coach bag, Hoefle’s remained cheerful and mute on the sidelines when at the store it became apparent to her daughter that such a purshase would require years of saving. On her own, the daughter suggested a detour to TJ Maxx to pick up a cheaper version, an unspoken lesson.

Other suggested guidelines: A child should never be paid for chores done in the home, with the exception of babysitting. We can’t be both parents and employers. Money shouldn’t be “attached” to grades or other behaviors or accomplishments. Don’t make loans if they forget their own money and never lecture them on their purchases.

Hoefle encourages parents to talk to their children about the charities they support and why and to ask them what they would be interested in supporting. Her daughter decided to help animals and each week brought a dollar of her own money to the humane society.

Parents present sensed the playfulness of letting kids practice with small amounts of money and develop a sense of its value as well as their own values. By honoring a kid’s choices, we honor who they are.

One parent voiced a concern of many. How can we ask our kids to do homework, sports, be involved in community-service, scouts, church-groups and other extra-curricular activities and still ask them to earn money?  Balancing one’s time between competing enterprises is part of life, she said.

Kate Rogers is a PTA parent.




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