5 Steps to Teach Kids that Allowance is Serious Business

I have been a parent for nearly a decade and there’s nothing that can make me cringe like the constant barrage of requests to buy something new.  It’s a challenge for even the most disciplined parent to keep saying, ‘sorry, but NO.’ Eventually, you give in and you hear yourself say, ‘FINE, yes, get it.” Is this parent-child dynamic inescapable?

I’m an optimist and say, ‘yes!’ Let’s take a fresh approach and teach our kids the fundamentals of money management starting with earning, saving, sharing and shopping wisely.

Here is a 5 Step-by-Step guide to help bring ‘Can I have . . . ?“ into ‘How can I earn . . . ?“ and shape our kids critical thinking and healthy financial habits.

Step 1: What’s the goal?

We want our kids to know that anything is within their reach but you need a game plan to get there.  Whether it’s completing their daily chores to attain their financial goal or practicing the piano every day to get selected for the school’s recital, a sense of accomplishment and pride in work is a critical life skill. Setting worthy, achievable goals gets kids excited about heading down the path towards future success.

Step 2: Focus on money management skills.

Kids can earn money from chores or age appropriate jobs, like pet sitting, but if you can’t manage your earnings you are out of business. One great way to learn how to manage money when you are younger is to distribute or allocate funds into three separate accounts  -- Save, Share and Shop.  Each account has its own purpose and is available when you need it. This step sets up a strong foundation for healthy financial habits to build on.

Step 3: When in doubt, ask, “Is it a need or a want?”

Walking into a store and seeing everything new and shinny is overwhelming for kids (and grown-ups!) and can throw off the best game plan.  Talk to your kids about needs (e.g., food and water) and wants (e.g., toys and candy) when you are running errands, in the grocery store or driving in the car.  Be assured, it’s not too early to start this conversation and it will help our kids mature a critical life skill that will help them tackle increasingly more substantial choices later in life.

Step 4: Ask, “How did it make you feel?”  

A little reflection goes a long way. By achieving set goals and being financially smart, kids gain confidence and satisfaction with a job well done.  What parent doesn’t appreciate hard work and great attitude? Let’s not forget among the hustle of bustle of life to acknowledge a job well done and grow self-esteem. 

Step 5: Go for it! 

Allowance paves the way for possibilities and opportunities and puts a twinkle in a child’s eye. You only need to see the smile of a successful, summer lemonade “sales-kid” to understand the impact of this one. Let’s encourage our kids to adopt wise money skills and make allowance serious kid business.  

2015 Parent Year in Review

As 2016 approaches, I catch myself auditing my 2015 Parent Year in Review while in line for coffee, en route to a meeting or making school lunches.  I am reminded how impressionable my kids are and how my actions imprint on them.  At the end of the day, we set the examples in which they learn from and, just recently, I was reminded of that when I asked my five year old to make his bed.

After a it's too quiet in there period of time, I peaked in his room and he was stripping his bed  -- no sheets, pillow cases or blanket. He met my what-are-you-doing look of shock with genuine exasperation, “I’m making my bed, that’s what you told me to do! It’s laundry day!” ( It was laundry day -- I had NO idea that he even knew there was a 'laundry day.')

Lesson learned; whether intended or not, our kids learn by watching us.

So, as this year winds down and I assess 2015, I look to the tenets of save, spend and share -- the anchors that helped me launch my company, iPiggiBank, and life anchors in positive modeling.

Save: Did I set an example for my children on the reward of saving for something special? Or, in my haste, did I succumb to the easy, pleasing route – instant gratification? My boys’ have saved their Halloween candy all the way through December so perhaps I have made a dent here.

Spend: Did I spend time with my kids really listening to them, playing with them and seizing teachable moments? Being transparent, there were days that were busier and more overwhelming than others.  I found that carving out additional time can be near impossible, but seizing opportunities in life’s mundane routines worked for my family. For example, I started to make it a practice in 2015 to discuss with my three sons that we have a grocery budget and we cannot throw every sugary cereal into our basket.  This actually works for us (sorry, Fruit Loops).

Share: Did I model for my children how important it is to give back to their community by sharing their time and money? This year, my boys put forth a tremendous team effort to give back to the teachers who, after all, give them one of the greatest gifts of all – the gift of education. They personally delivered hand crafted breakfast trays to the school. Note, I say hand crafted not mom crafted. This is a proud moment that I will cherish for a long time and I look forward to many more sharing moments like this in 2016.

As I reflect on my 2015 Parent Year in Review, I see clearly which seeds have taken root, which are growing, and where I should start planting.

That's the great thing about a new year -- it's a fresh start to embark on being the best you can be. So, let’s set an example of our best selves, after all, our kids are watching.

I challenge other parents to reflect on the past year and share which ways they would build on their parenting successes and challenges. Parenting is a village, I’d love to learn from you.

Happy 2016!




Spend A Day With A Money-Smart Millennium

I’m Annemarie Hansen. College senior. Veteran babysitter. iPiggiBank Marketing & Social Media Associate.  Money-smart millennium.


Working for iPiggiBank for the past 2 years has offered me more incredible insight on kids’ financial literacy than I could have ever imagined. To my surprise (and to my luck) it has also helped me with my own financial savvy. The skills we are instilling in young kids will stay with them long after they graduate from iPiggiBank’s Money Management for Kids programs – and I am living proof.

Walk through a day with me to see all the different ways iPiggiBank’s money management skills and core concepts of Save, Share & Shop have an impact:



As the sun rises, so do Dad and I, running the familiar route through town. Running is many things to me: a bonding experience with my Dad, a way to stay healthy, and a way to give back. Together we ran the 2014 NYC Marathon and raised over $5,200 on behalf of Team for Kids, a charity that helps support free, youth fitness programs in over 400 schools and community centers nationwide.


After a quick shower, I head over to babysit for a few hours. I open the door to eager greetings of “Hi Ed!!” (It stands for Evil Dictator, but I pinky promise it’s a term of affection). We might spend the morning having breakfast at the diner, searching Marshall’s for a good deal on new jeans, or walking over to feed the neighbor’s pets while they are away. Just as iPiggiBank is helping parents start (and continue) the “awkward” or “hushed” money conversation at home, it also helps babysitters like me. If ‘my charge’ wants a new phone case, he has to decide if that’s really what he wants to spend his money on; and if we go to the grocery store with a budget, sometimes we have to pick between the cookie and the vitamin water. These conversations help transform me from an always-says-no Ed (yep, “Evil Dictator”) to a teacher and trusty advisor.


Once I’m off the clock, I head out to do some grocery shopping of my own. No longer a part of your parents’ or university’s meal plan, you quickly realize how expensive buying groceries can be. However, it doesn’t have to be. I plan my week’s meals around what I know is on sale and I’m careful not to overbuy on fresh groceries that can turn rotten quickly and go to waste. I even bring my own reusable bags to help the environment. Just like iPiggiBank’s Receipt Challenge, I always check to make sure I was charged correctly and received discounts where I should have. 


When I get home, I cozy up on the couch with my Study Abroad scrapbook. I often have trouble finding the words to describe my incredibly amazing semester in Australia. Never before have I experienced such freedom and responsibility – along with a critical need for smart budgeting.  Since traveling to Australia was something I had always dreamed of doing, I spent a long time saving up before my departure. This involved picking up extra jobs, putting in extra hours, and splitting my paychecks – half went towards Australia savings and the other half I could use for spending. Because I planned ahead, saved up, and budgeted accordingly while I was there, I was able to experience all that I wanted to and more. Again, iPiggiBank’s teachings to save wisely for something special rings true.


As I shut my scrapbook, I skip into the kitchen to help out someone whom I have my ability to study abroad – and a plethora of other things – to thank for; my mom! Helping prepare dinner for my family is not only a bonding time with mom, it’s also my way of being a family-team player. I know that our happy, healthy, and loving home is a product of each of us doing our part. iPiggiBank reinforces family time by finding a helpful role for everyone in the home. Besides, who cannot give back to the people who love and support you most?


Out of the Mouth of Babes

As I pile up the boxes of Girl Scout cookies on my kitchen counter that I ordered to support cousins, friends and friends of friends, my 8 year old son asks me, “How much did all these cookies cost?”  I look at him ( a little surprised that he’s not excited about eating cookies) and his face reflects genuine shock and concern that I have not been thoughtful in spending ‘our’ money.  Did the student just become the teacher?

Maybe. This is a proud mommy moment. He’s applying the money management skills that we discuss regularly in simple everyday routines. From talks in the car on our way to baseball practice on needs vs wants or how much money he needs to save up to contribute towards his new bike, it’s all sinking in! He gets it. Yippee, I’m raising a money savvy kid.

I reassure him that supporting the Girl Scouts is part of our ‘sharing’ and giving back and thank him for asking me. If he didn’t I wouldn’t have thought to explain why we used our funds for this cause.  Our kids are always watching and learning from us  . . .

Share your experience and tell me about your super money savvy kid!