So your child has set aside money for savings, she has set some aside for giving, and now…..time to shop ‘til she drops! Tap the brakes, mom and dad. There are many things we have to teach our kids about spending. If your family has purchased the Fisherkids Responsibility Station, then this is the third area of fiscal responsibility that we are trying to teach our children: the system teaches giving, saving, and spending. And yes, there is an art to spending, so let’s get started.

When your child first earns some money in the Spend It money bag, he may want to rush out to the dollar store to spend it all. “What can I buy with this much money?” When your answer is “a piece of bubble gum”, they are going to be either dejected and frustrated, or they will shout with glee and hop in the car to go get themselves some bubble gum!  Either reaction is a predicament that offers us a teachable moment as parents.  As your child heads to the check out aisle (we call this the Devil's Aisle with all the impulse buying opportunities!) and wants to spend his/her money on a pack of rubber bracelets or a bag of Scooby Doo fruit gummies, our instinct is to tell them no....that's not a wise use of money.  But consider this: let them learn this for themselves.  You can discuss it of course; for example: when the bracelets get sucked into the vacuum cleaner or when the gummies are gone by the time you get to the car, discuss the amount of time and effort it took to earn the money to buy something so short-lived.  It may take your child a while to connect the dots, but it is an important lesson to learn early in life rather than later!

Explain the Spend It money bag in the very beginning. The Give It and Save It money bags don't seem to carry as much disappointment as the Spend It bag may. (After all, the worlds of financial prudence and charity aren't creating child-focused commercials for the latest and greatest action figure or internet-compatible stuffed animal that retails for substantially more than a piece of bubble gum.) Explain to your child that at first there may not be much money to spend, but it will only take a few weeks to earn enough to get something more exciting than a piece of bubble gum. To put it another way, tell him that by the end of the basketball season (or whatever season it is at the moment), he will have earned $_____, which is enough for __________. There are some other ideas listed below. Our goal for our children should be to encourage them to use the Spend It money bag as a short-term savings for something they really want. We are trying to discourage impulse buying!

We have a free app available for your apple devices, called Savings Setter.  It allows you to take a

picture of your child, take a picture of what (s)he is saving for, and set the price.  As money is

earned, more of the picture is revealed until the goal is finally met.  It's such a great visual and such

a great motivator, AND not just for kids!  It is a fantastic way to promote delayed gratification.

You can also make a "savings thermometer" to hang in your home's Grand Central Station and your

child will color it each time (s)he puts money in the Spend It bag to see the mercury rise.  Lots of

free printables can be found by clicking here.


-the marble jar: every time your child gets, say, $2.00 saved up (depending on what they are saving for), (s)he gets a marble in the jar and (s)he can see the jar filling closer to the finish line of whatever (s)he is saving for.

-every time your child gets a specific increment of money saved, buy a giftcard at that store for that amount. Explain that when (s)he gets ____ gift cards, (s)he will be able to afford the item.

-put a picture of what (s)he is saving for on the magnetic fisherkids pegboard so (s)he will see it every single day.

-send your child little notes in the REAL mailbox letting him/her know how close (s)he is to having enough money for the item. Don't forget to tell your child how proud you are of him/her, and how thankful you are that (s)he is earning this money being part of the family team.

-let your child know that (s)he can do extra chores around the house, or pull extra chore sticks from the responsibility station to earn money and get even closer to the goal. One of our customers set a timer one time to show her girls how little time it takes to actually do one chore well. Once your child realizes it a) doesn't take long, and b) (s)he can earn extra income, (s)he will most likely do a little more around the house. Maybe not every week, but at least a few times a month!

A few years ago, our younger daughter saved for a while for a toy she wanted...when she finally had enough money, I took her to the store to buy it. She took her Spend It money bag, looked and looked for the right one, then finally found it. Her eyes were filled with excitement and she was clapping her hands wildly. She ran over to me and hugged me and said, "Thank you so much, Mommy!" I explained to her that I didn't do anything...she earned every penny of it. She then uttered words that stabbed me through my Mom-heart: "But you invented fisherkids and that's how I got this!" I felt like Fred Sanford when he grabbed his heart and said, "I'm coming, Elizabeth!" She was so sweet and so proud. We could have bought it for her at any time, but she earned it herself and it absolutely meant the world to her. {She's informed me now that she is saving for a swimming pool, not the inflatable kind...I suppose our next lesson is the price of swimming pools.}


The Fisherkids Responsibility Station helps parents as they teach their children financial responsibility. It promotes three arenas of fiscal management: giving, saving, and spending.  Read on to discover ways to teach your child wise spending habits.  Email us if there is a topic you would like us to cover!

"If I fish for you, you eat for a day.  If I teach you to fish, you eat for a lifetime."



It is often difficult for us as parents because we want the best for our child.  We want to be able to give them the wants as well as the needs.  But we have to remember the end result: learning the value of a dollar, establishing a work ethic, and learning to delay gratification in order to make a responsible choice/decision.  As our children age, we have to teach new lessons in financial management.  Budgeting comes into play and it is important to teach value as well as wise spending.

The first instance that comes to mind is the "above and beyond" issue when it comes to clothing, accessories, etc.  For example, if the family budget allows for $30 for jeans for the school year, but your daughter wants the $150 pair, perhaps allow her to pay the difference.  One customer presented this option to their son who wanted a pair of athletic shoes well above and beyond the family budget.  He chose to save for them and then paid the difference.  Another family presented the same option to their daughter and she decided the outfit wasn't worth the extra money.  Of course every family's budget is different, but the concept is the same. 

It is also important as your child ages to teach budgeting.  Gas, insurance, entertainment with friends may all become budget categories as our kids get older.  Most families build entertainment into the family budget, but it is an eye opener for your child to occasionally let your child pay for the outing.  For example, our oldest daughter asked one day if she could go to the movies with a friend.  Now, even though we could have given her the money, we let her know that it would need to come out of her spend money since it was spur of the moment and not planned in the weekly budget.  She was happy to do that, but it was hysterical to listen to her recap the evening.  She said that once they paid for their ticket, they wanted food.  She said, "Oh my gosh!  The food is SO expensive at the theater!"  She said they split the popcorn and had water to drink.  It was great that she learned that the above and beyond that parents provide is valuable and should not be taken for granted.  Again, we want to provide the best for our children, but every once in a while, it is a great lesson to teach the value of a dollar.

Teens also can challenge us with their {lack of} motivation.  But as they are approaching independent living at a seemingly alarming rate, it is important to teach them consequences now.  So if your teen doesn't fill out the job application for a summer job then it will be a great lesson to learn that all the things they want to do for the summer won't happen because of lack of funds.  If your teen doesn't get to school on time because (s)he can't seem to wake up on time, then it will be a great lesson to have a grade affected by tardies.  I know many parents who then fire back at me, "But his grades get him into college!  We can't afford to let tardies affect his grade."  My thought immediately fast-forwards to college when either the parents are STILL calling to wake him up or he missed classes that will affect his job that is supposed to support his family.  None of these lesson are easy for parents to either teach children or allow their children to learn, yet it is vital to let them learn somehow.  The same lessons apply to the way your teen spends money.

"The gratification of wealth is not found in mere possession  or in lavish expenditure but in its wise application ."

-miguel de cervantes saavedra

responsibility stations