Praise is priceless: Encouraging money-smart kids

Giving positive feedback is key to changing behaviour, so be sure to notice when your kids make smart money choices.

Even though I’m the “expert,” I can tell you that raising a money-smart kid is no easy task. It’s a long process — think years, not days or months — and sometimes you wonder if all your carefully crafted lessons about saving, spending wisely or financial management will ever really change your child’s behaviour.

Faithful readers of this blog will know I’ve been working on money skills with my son, Adam, for more than five years — and at age nine he’s been through his share of successes and disappointments. He’s saved up for weeks to buy a video game, only to be let down by the game’s quality. He’s discovered the joy of sharing by donating money to charity and giving toys away to friends and relatives, and he’s pined for game consoles or other tech devices that his friends had, but he didn’t.

Recently, though, Adam’s efforts have really amazed me. Tired of our continued refusals to buy him another handheld gaming device (since he got one for his birthday a few years ago) he has been diligently saving up his allowance, birthday money and gift cards toward the purchase of a New Nintendo 3DS XL, which sells for about $230. About six months in, he’s more than two-thirds of the way to his goal.

It hasn’t been easy. Recently, Adam sold a handful of old video games he wasn’t using anymore back to a reseller during a promotion and cleared $63. While he was proud of his accomplishment — even the store clerk commended him on how much he’d saved — he was upset to leave the store empty handed.

“It’s just that I wish I had something new now,” he told me later at home, through his tears.

I hugged him and said I understood how difficult it must have been to see a bunch of awesome things at the store — and have the money to buy them! — but be strong enough to walk away. (This was entirely his choice, by the way; I would have been totally cool with him spending some of the money and said as much, but he knew that would mean extra weeks of saving to achieve his goal.) Then I told him I was very proud of him.

Before long he recovered, and was again beaming with the pride of his achievement — and making me proud, too. I continue to tell him how proud he makes me whenever I catch him being smart with his money. And I know in my heart it does make a difference.


Have you complimented your kids for being smart with their money? Let us know!


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada).

About the Author

Tamar Satov

Managing Editor, CPA magazine
Tamar is a journalist specializing in business, parenting and personal finance. She blogs regularly in this space with advice and anecdotes on her efforts to raise a money-smart kid.