Battling the Gimmies: Raising Financially Responsible Children

Today I have a sweet friend sharing some tips on how to battle the gimmies in our children. Please welcome Nancy from There is Grace! ...

It all went down right there in aisle 7: Boy sees toy. Boy wants toy. Mom says "no." Boy throws a colossal fit that melts Mom into a puddle of frustrated humiliation.

Source: Microsoft Images

We've been doing this dance for decades, us and our children. No matter how many toys are scattered in the playroom or around the yard at home, my children will always want the shiny new one they see right then. It's an ongoing battle with the "gimmies."

The "gimmies" is what I call that have-to-have-it-now attitude that dominates my offspring in any retail setting. Who are we kidding, I struggle with it as much as they do; I simply have enough control to not throw myself into a full-blown tantrum in the middle of Target.

It's a constant struggle in our age of marketing overload. So, what is a parent to do? Here's how we approach it in our family: Money = work.

When kids associate money with work, they are less likely to develop a sense of dis-contentment that can lead to the "gimmies." In his article, "Teaching Your Kids About Money," financial guru Dave Ramsey says, "Kids need to make an emotional connection between work and money at a young age."

Following Ramsey's advice, we created a list of jobs around the house. A dollar amount was assigned to each job, and whoever does the work gets the money. The jobs and payments are age-appropriate for our 5- and 8-year-olds. For example "feeding the dog" (a daily activity) will earn you $.25 but "raking the leaves" (a once-a-year chore) will bring in $3!

As they grow older, the jobs will grow more difficult and the pay will increase. We record their earnings on a chart throughout the week and tally them up on "payday."

Give, Save, Spend

We made three simple jars labeled: GIVE, SAVE, SPEND. (Get a free printable here to help you create your own jars.) When the kids earn money, they divide it between the three jars. "The concepts of spending and giving help develop problem-solving skills," explains Ramsey. "You're laying a foundation for their lives."

GIVE. As Christians, we believe in the biblical principle of tithing, so our kids are expected to put at least 10% in the give jar when they are paid. (We help the little ones who don't know percentages yet.) On Sundays they empty their GIVE jars and take their tithes to church. If we want our kids to have a realistic view of finances, we must teach them to be givers as well as savers and spenders.

SAVE. We encourage our kids to put at least 40% in their save jars. This money is set aside for bigger items they want that mom and dad are not planning to buy. (Mom is not paying an extra $15 for a name-brand label!). They each choose the item they want to save for, and we print a picture to put by their SAVE jar.

SPEND. The balance goes into the SPEND jar. They can take this money with them when we go to the store for something small they might want on a whim.

To our surprise, our kids have consistently chosen to put most of their earnings in their SAVE jars and have already made some great purchases. It's helped to curb the "gimmies" that strike in the toy aisle, too. Instead of having a meltdown over a desired toy, we simply add it to the "save for" list. While we have not banished the "gimmies" in our house, we have managed to gain a little ground in the battle. More importantly, we are striving to raise financially responsible children who will one day become hard-working adults who can manage their resources responsibly.

"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it" ~Proverbs 22:6


Nancy is a lover of words and all things chocolate. She is married to her best friend, and when she’s not settling sibling squabbles between her Little Miss and Little Man, she can be found sipping coffee and writing about faith, family, and finding grace in the journey. She blogs at There Is Grace.