How to Make Money

5 Money Lessons You Learned as a Kid You Can Totally Use as an Adult

Updated June 28, 2016
by Meghan Williams
Contributor

We learn some of our best lessons during childhood.

Do you remember your mom or dad giving you a weekly allowance, paying you a few bucks for doing chores or encouraging you to put your spare change in a piggy bank?

You may or may not have realized it at the time, but these were money lessons. And they were great ones.

They taught us how to spend, earn and save money the right way — and also began preparing us for the financial realities of adult life.

Although most of us are now in charge of our own money, there’s still a lot we can learn from our younger years.

Here are some money lessons for kids you can apply to your life as an adult.

1. Give Yourself an Allowance

For many of us, getting an allowance was our first taste of financial management.

Yes, we could (kind of) buy what we wanted, but we also learned how quickly we could spend money if we weren’t careful.

These days, children receive about $67.80 per month in allowance — up 16% since 2012.

But it’s not all about the money. An allowance is a tool many parents use to teach their children about financial responsibility. And it’s a tool you can continue using as an adult.

To start, calculate your discretionary income. This is all the money you have left after paying your bills and buying essential items, like food and clothing.

Based on the total, allocate a weekly or monthly allowance amount you can spend on anything you want — 10% is probably good.

I’ve tried this lesson many times.

My biggest takeaway? Stick to your allowance by using cash. Once the cash is gone, try not to spend any unnecessary money until you give yourself another allowance.

2.  Use Money Jars

Think of them as less-cute piggy banks.

Parents use this method to teach their kids how to organize money. For instance, one jar can be for saving, another for spending, and a third for emergencies.

As children collect cash and coins, they can divvy them up among their different jars, watch their funds grow and spend appropriately.

It’s similar to the old school envelope method, and is perfect if you need a little bit of help budgeting.

To do it, set up different bank accounts for your money — or get literal and use actual jars.

Either way is fine, just make sure you have a system for differentiating your “jars.” This can be as simple as renaming certain savings accounts “Car,” “Vacation” or “Wedding.”

3. Manage Your Lunch Money

Back in the day, if your mom handed you $10 per week for lunch money, you had a few options.

You could’ve spent half of it on Monday, and the remaining $5 over the rest of the week. Or you could’ve spent $2 per day and kept everything equal.

Or you could’ve played it smart and bought school lunch for three days, brought lunch from home for two days, and pocketed the leftover money — until your mom or dad took the cash back, of course.

I was more of an option number two girl — and I still am, as an adult.

As soon as I got a job, I gave myself a weekly lunchtime spending goal of $25. I could spend it any way I wanted throughout the week, but I couldn’t go over my budgeted $25.

If you want to incorporate this money-saving method into your life, start by setting your own weekly lunchtime spending goal.

Try to stay within this budget as much as possible — unless you’re starving. In that case, give yourself more lunch money and try again.

4. Review Shopping Purchases

Did your parents ever take you grocery shopping and explain the financial reasoning for buying certain items over others?

Perhaps the generic brand of cereal was the best buy because it was cheaper and tasted just like the name brand. Or maybe it made more sense to buy toilet paper in bulk because of the cost savings.

If you weren’t paying attention back then, don’t worry. It’s still not too late for you to learn this money lesson.

Next time you go grocery shopping, study what you’re buying.

Don’t just pick up the first carton of eggs you see. Take some time to compare the price, quantity and brand to another carton of eggs to make the better selection.

Continue this process all the way down your grocery list. It may be time-consuming at first, but if you keep practicing, you’ll be a shopping review pro in no time.

To take it even further, compare prices and quantities at several stores to see where you’ll get the best deal.

5. Play Monopoly

Monopoly is a fun way for children to learn money management and real estate basics.

The game is simple: If they’ve earned enough cash through playing, they can purchase property, build homes and eventually build hotels.

Based on their financial situations, they may also have to collect or pay rent, pay income tax, and — if things go really badly — declare bankruptcy.

Sound familiar?

Monopoly teaches us adults the importance of investing, spending money wisely and saving for a rainy day.

Is buying Baltic Avenue really worth it, or is it better to hold on to your money a bit longer in the hope of buying Park Place?

Your Turn: What money lessons from your childhood can you apply in your adult life? Are there any you think wouldn’t translate well?

Meghan Williams (@meggsndbacon) is a freelance writer armed with a laptop, thesaurus and positive attitude. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading a book, playing piano or spending time with friends and family (her two cats included.)

by Meghan Williams
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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