Making sharing (or charitable giving) a habit isn’t always easy. If you’re lucky, you have one of those kids who seem to be born givers. You know the type: always willing to pitch in or give of themselves to a worthy cause. For most of us, though, our kids (like ourselves) require some prodding. Yes, many kids learn about sharing. But many aren’t taught to share their money. They certainly aren’t taught this idea at a young age, which is when it’s a good time to start. To put it another way, it’s a good idea to help your kids build the habit of at least thinking about sharing (or charitable giving) every time they receive some money. This doesn’t mean that your kids should donate a percentage of any amount that comes to them. It just means that they should think about giving (or not giving) each time they receive some money. This circles back to one of the core concepts I’ve blogged about before, which is teaching your kids to make smart-money choices. Building those good habits early can help you avoid having to break bad habits later.
You may be thinking to yourself that forcing your kids to share their money feels a little weird. It’s like “mandated wholesomeness.” But it’s sensible, and it’s a tested model. My daughter’s school requires each student to perform 10 hours of community service over the course of the school year. From one point of view, that seems like required giving. The cynic might think that the kids are doing it for credit and not from the goodness of their own hearts. This may be true. However, by mandating the service hours, the kids get the opportunity to experience the joy of helping out in the community. When kids have more than one experience with this, they are that much more likely to have at least one of those eureka moments where they see that community service does an amazing amount of good. It apparently works because the school is routinely lauded for the grace of its students and faculty.
Anyhow, here’s an easy way to get started on the subject of kids and charitable giving: Take a look at my Money Mammals TV short on the right. In it I suggest finding something personal or meaningful for your kids to get involved with so the “learning to give” process will better resonate with them. If your kids can really connect with a charity, they will get so much more out of it.
Good luck! Please let me know how it goes.
Chief Mammal & Creator, The Money Mammals