A money teachable moment may not be easy to identify in your own life, so I’m sharing 5 real-life examples of other parents who saw an opportunity and seized it to teach their kiddo something important.
Have you ever heard the phrase Teachable Moment?
A Teachable Moment is a specific time that is ripe for a conversation or lesson because your kid(dos)’ interest about a subject is peaked.
Why would that moment in time be the right one to give a lesson?
Well, when your child is highly interested in something – either because a situation has presented itself in real life (IRL), or because they’re just into it (you know how kids go through crazy phases!) –then they’re way more likely to not only listen, but to absorb what you’re saying.
For example, if you’re on a nature walk and your kiddo becomes highly fascinated/upset about all of the pieces of trash everywhere…you could start a conversation about recycling, trash pick-ups, taking care of your trash and how it ends up in beautiful places like this when people don’t, etc.
But if you’re walking into a restaurant for dinner and your child happens to chuck a piece of trash on the way in instead of putting it in the trash can, then you’re likely to experience an eye-roll or a half-hearted “sure” when you point out what they’ve done wrong and how bad that is for the environment.
Lucky for us, life takes money. Which means money situations are all around us. So teachable money moments are everywhere – both in your own life and in your child’s life.
Yet, it’s not exactly second nature for all of us to identify these moments and capitalize on them to teach our children something.
So, I wanted to offer up 5 examples from my blogging friends about actual moments they took to teach money lessons to their kids, IRL.
Teachable Moment #1: Consider Spending Alternatives, from Ordering Mac ‘N Cheese at the Whole Foods Prepared Section
Kiddo’s Name (real or anonymous): Bash
Stephen Chen from New Retirement says that a teachable money moment, “happened this evening after we were headed back from playing basketball. He was hungry and wanted to grab something at Whole Foods – macaroni and cheese from the prepared foods section.
He thought it would be < $5. I thought it would be a lot more since it was dense and this is not a great thing to buy by weight from Whole Foods…
Turns out it was $10.50. I ended up buying it since it would have gotten tossed but we had a good discussion about being thoughtful about spending and considering alternatives.”
I asked Stephen to follow-up on what, if any, his child took from his efforts to impart some money wisdom in this teachable moment.
Stephen said, “he understood that it was a lot to pay for a food choice that is normally inexpensive (and not that nutritious) and that there were lower cost options (frozen or stove top). He did get that there are better value ways to spend dollars when buying things by weight – ex. mashed potatoes vs. raspberries. Also discussed that different retailers have different price points and types of customers (whole food/paycheck vs Safeway – regional California chain). Would he have spent that much if it was his money vs. mine? What else could be get for $10.50?”
Teachable Moment #2: A Loan is Never Guaranteed to be Repaid, from a Hasty, $5 Yard-Sale-Teddy-Bear
Kiddo’s Name (real or anonymous): Anonymous
Kate Horrell of Paycheck Chronicles writes about how her child, who normally receives $1.50/week in allowance, asked for an allowance advance on the remaining $6.00 one month after learning that her big sister gets their entire months’ allowance in one fell swoop.
But what happened?
Well, her daughter turned up crying in a very short amount of time. It turns out her big sister had said she “might” pay for a teddy bear the little girl wanted at a yard sale ($5.00). The big sis paid, and then told her little sister that she now owed her the $5.00 because by her paying for the teddy bear for her little sister it meant that she had taken out a loan (with the “gotcha” being that she said “might” and not that she actually, 100%, would).
What an interesting situation!
Mama Bear Kate took the situation as a teachable moment for several different kinds of lessons, such as the perils of lending/borrowing with friends and family, fully outlining and understanding financial negotiations before entering into them, loans aren’t always repaid, etc.
But of course, all these teachable moments from this one incident didn’t happen at once. That would be a little overwhelming even to an adult!
Kate says, “In my experience, they each learn a little bit every year (just like us adults.) I think they have definitely learned that a loan is never guaranteed to be repaid:).”
Teachable Moment #3: Thinking through The Free Toy Sales Gimmick from his Kid’s Candy-Toy Addiction
Kiddo’s Name (real or anonymous): Michael
Joseph, who has curated a big collection of tips from financial bloggers on how to teach kids money-saving tips, shares, “My son Michael just turned 5 years old. He’s completely hooked on the candies with little toys inside – the chocolate eggs or the cups of yogurt with the plastic toys in the bottom of the cup. Of course, the toy really isn’t worth much and they mark up the candy because they know kids will pressure their parents to buy.
Trying to ween my son off these, I told him that instead of buying one or two of these a week as we normally did, he could spend half the amount on anything he wanted. I helped him see choices between buying the one candy/toy combination or buying a much better toy by itself.
Not only was I trying to get him off the candy treats but also wanted to help him see through the commercialized sales pitch, i.e. see through the candy/toy gimmick.
He still asks for the candy every once in a while, but not as often as before. Hopefully it will help him be a better consumer, not so easily persuaded by gimmicks and sales pitches, when he’s older.”
Teachable Moment #4: Loan Spawned from Broken Laptop Makes Child More Responsible
Kiddo’s Name (real or anonymous): Anonymous
William H. Dwight of FamZoo offers up the following teachable money moment he used in his own household with his son, the heavy metal drummer:
William, a self-proclaimed “nerdy computer science Dad,” bought his son a fancy Mac laptop to record music with his buddies. He wanted to support his child’s creative pursuits, especially since it was being encouraged by his son’s music teacher.
Except that then, six months later, he learned it had been trashed. Not only did his child show complete disregard for this really expensive gift from his father, but he casually announced, “my music teacher says I need a new one.”
As if laptops fall out of the sky!
William said, “Here’s the deal: I’m not going to buy you one, but I’ll give you a loan, and I’m going to garnish your wages for the next year and a half to pay this thing back.”
This resulted in 40% of his weekly allowance disappearing to pay for an item he really wanted. Subsequently, he took a LOT better care of the second laptop than he did the first.
William recalls, “He took really good care of that thing. He had that computer longer than any computer I could remember. It was a total game changer.”
Teachable Moment #5: How to Start a Business and Create a Business Plan from Daughter’s Idea
Kiddo’s Name (real or anonymous): Sienna Jaye
Small-biz-owner Jennifer Franklin shares, “My 11-year-old daughter recently came to me with an idea for her own business. She told me her idea to start an online apparel store for young girls like herself. We talked about a business plan and how she was going to fund her business.”
I was super curious to hear what they talked about during this business plan conversation. Jennifer shares the following points:
1 | We talked about what she would need to get started. She made a list of things she would need that included: logo, website, designs, apparel, heat press.
2 | We also talked about how she was going to get started. She made a to-do list.
3 | Her original idea was to print the shirts herself, but soon found out the initial cost was going to be more than she could invest.
4 | She researched and found a company online that will print her designs for her. The company she found would not have been my first choice because the profits are smaller and she has to send her customers to their website to make the purchase. I gave her my advice, but in the end she chose to go with her original decision. The reasons she gave were: the apparel options are “cooler” and it was easier for her to create and upload her designs.
How to Fund Business:
1 | We talked about how much money she had on hand and in the bank. And how she probably didn’t want to use it all up front.
2 | We also talked about who she could ask for a loan if she needed more money to get started. Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa were some of her answers.
3 | She also brought up that she could ask Grandma if she had any jobs for her to do. (Grandma sometimes “hires” her to help out with odd jobs.)
4 | Her initial investment was only $51.51 to get started. We used a coupon code from GoDaddy to set up a domain and a managed WordPress website for only $12 for the year. She purchased one of her designs to make sure the quality was what she was looking for and used a 30% coupon code. The hoodie cost $39.51.
This talk really got the ball rolling. Jennifer says, “Over the weekend, she put her plan in action all on her own: designed her logo, created apparel designs on a website she found and set up her website (she had a little direction from me on how to set up the website.) She has told her friends at school and has already sold a few items. It was pretty cool to see her in action.
Love that we can inspire a whole new generation of girl bosses!:)”
And a little cherry on top? Her daughter left the following note on her mother’s desk (*heart melting*):
Wow. These are some powerful money teachable moments that could have passed by as so many other moments do in our lives.
Instead, these mothers and fathers seized the opportunity and decided to create a lesson from it that their kids are not likely to forget.
Now it’s your turn! What teachable moments have you taken advantage of in your own life? How did they crop up? Any inspiration from the moments above? Please share!