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The Saving Gene

Recently, I was pulling together all of my paperwork to complete my taxes. When my daughter asked what I was doing, I gave her a very primitive explanation of taxes (not because I was dumbing it down for a 10 year old, mostly because accounting is not my strong suit).

I was impressed when she then explained to me how she had learned about taxes at school. Each student was assigned a job and salary. Like the game of Life, they got to choose their homes and cars in exchange for some of their cash. The exercise ended with a surprise…they owed income taxes. The kids with money left over won. My daughter was one of two who had money left over. I thought this was pure brilliance. What an incredible way to impress the impact of taxes and teach budgeting at a young age. 

Growing up, there wasn’t much focus on personal budgeting in school. This is one of the many reasons why I thought it was important to start the lessons at home – early. When my daughter turned three years old, I started paying her an allowance. I paid her $3 a week to do three basic life skill chores: brush her teeth, put her toys away and make her bed. 

My logic was, as a single mom, it was an amount that I could scale and manage financially, and for a child, an appropriate amount to comprehend. What I didn’t plan on was it being a catalyst for a new family tradition. Now every year on her birthday, my daughter and I negotiate her raise in allowance and the age appropriate chore that corresponds. 

I’m so happy we started this at such a young age. She quickly learned the value of a dollar. More importantly, she learned to save. She saved for six years. Instead of putting away my suggested half to her savings, she stashed away every dollar she earned, found or was gifted. 

Six years later she bought her first brand new four wheeler. Imagine the pride I felt for my daughter that day. I’m so proud of her – she got the saving gene. She gets that from her grandmothers!

Janet Smith is a proud single-mom of one daughter and a marketing professional who is grateful for her rural roots in the London area. She is a big believer in connecting with people through laughter and honesty.


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