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Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees

Posted by Children Story Time admin, 8 minutes read

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Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees: Apps to enhance kids’ learning…


The term, “money doesn’t grow on trees” is often used by frustrated parents whose kids don’t fully understand the concept of earning money in order to spend it. If you identify as one such frustrated parent, then this article is for you. 


Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees

With so many advances in tech and the global economy becoming more diverse and complex, it’s no surprise that kids may find it difficult to fully comprehend the value of a buck. However, teaching your child financial literacy is vital for their future. If you’ve caught yourself using phrases like “money doesn’t grow on trees” to try and communicate the concept of earning and spending to your child, then this article will help you engage with your child to demonstrate the value of money. 


Most parents have all been in that situation. You’re in the grocery store with your child, and you come across that ever so bright and colorful toy aisle. If you’re dreading the impending question “can I have…” and you know the pennies are a bit tight, it’s important to teach your child that if they want something, they have to work for it. Just like you’ve done throughout your life to have everything you do. Here are some tips on how to teach your child that money doesn’t grow on trees!


Explain That Things Have Value and Cost

Next time you’re faced with the question “Can I have that toy” or “I want a chocolate”, turn it into a learning opportunity. Try not to get frustrated, even though it’s tough not to. Take the time to show your youngster the actual price of the item they’re asking for. 


Next, explain to them that you have a budget for this particular shopping trip, and why the other items you intend to buy should take precedence for the good of the household. Explain that chocolate and toys are “luxury” or unnecessary items that they can live without.  One of the best ways to ensure your child understands that they have to work for something is to give incentives that will reward them with the item they desire. As an example, if a child wants a teddy bear, they have to get good grades at school. For each A they get $10.00, for a B they get $7.00 or similar. You can also make it fun. Why not set up a classic lemonade or cupcake stand with your child? Making these items is a fun family activity and your child can sell them to earn the money they need for a bar of particular chocolate or toy. 


Be a Role Model

Kids will inevitably learn through their parent’s actions, so it’s important to practice what you preach. For example, if you decide to treat yourself, tell your child why you are treating yourself, what you had to do to earn the money for a particular item and how much the item costs. It’s also a good idea to explain to your child the reason they have particular goods or why they can do certain things. Teach them that the reason they can live in their house, or attend a particular school is that you, as parents, have worked hard to be able to afford those aspects of your child’s life. Putting yourself in a position that your child can aspire to will make it easier for them to learn. You’ll also become the figure they come to when they ask questions and your approval will mean the world to them. Many parents give their kids pocket money as a way of giving them a small bit of income they have to manage themselves. This is also a great way to respond to a demanding child. If they ask for something in the shops, knowing they have money allows you to deflect the act of buying the item onto them.   


Show Opportunity Cost

Opportunity cost is the decision you make to buy something or not. As an example, your child may want a strawberry milkshake that costs $7.00 and will give them instant gratification. It’s good to explain that they could get something better for the same amount that will last them longer, or put that $7.00 towards something with more value like holiday money or something else they want to do. It’s good to do the math with them and look at the money they have access to. If they have $20.00 and want to spend $7.00, make it clear to them that they’ll only have $13.00 left to spend on their next holiday. Keeping things simple is the best way to teach your kids about the value of money. 


Teach Them About Saving

Following on from demonstrating opportunity cost is teaching kids about how to save money. As with teaching a child anything, it’s important to keep these important life lessons fun. Getting your child a piggy bank is a great way to encourage your child to save money. If you do give your kids pocket money then you should encourage them to put some of it away. Either in the piggy bank or another form where they cannot easily access it on impulse. It’s also a great idea to work with your kids to set saving goals. If a toy costs $70 dollars and your child really wants it, then you have to teach them to save for it. Break it down into terms they’ll understand. $70.00 would mean they have to get 7 A’s in their tests at school and put that away until they have enough to afford the toy. 


Elaborate on Saving

Sometimes younger children cannot think beyond instant gratification, so you may need to guide them in this.  A simple way to do this is letting your child pick out something they would like but that they do not have the money to afford at the moment.  You can tell them you need to save the money to earn this item.

You can create a way where they can track how much money they have and how much money they need.  One simple way is two Mason jars.  You can use counting items, such as marbles or gemstones, for the equivalent of each dollar in price.  Label one jar as “earned” and the other as “to be earned”.  As your child earns money, they will move the marbles over.  This will help your child have a visual to help understand the concept of saving for a larger item.


As your child waits for the pleasure of purchasing the bigger item that they want, you can remind them that money doesn’t grow on trees.  This delay of instant gratification will certainly help you drive that lesson home for your children.


Being Smart with Money

Another valuable lesson for your children regarding money is the idea of using money for different things.  There are four different categories that you may want to focus on:  Savings, Charity, Spending Now, Bigger Purchases.



Ideally your child should save around 10 percent of their allowance.  This can be in a piggy bank or perhaps a joint bank account. Depending on the amount of responsibility you want to place on your child, this savings could be used for damages and unforeseen events, such as a bicycle needing a new tire.  It can also be a general savings, which they can use in the future for college or a car down payment.



Raising generous and thoughtful children is a goal of many parents.  A general amount for charity is 10 percent.  You and your child can choose to use this how they see fit.  Perhaps your animal lover will want to pick out needed items for the animal shelter.  Maybe they want to buy new toys to donate to Toys for Tots once a year.  There are also sponsorships available worldwide where they can see how their money helps children in need.


Spending Now

They may want to splurge a little bit when they receive money.  Perhaps they want to enjoy a milkshake or buy extra candy at the movie theater.  A portion of their money can be for things they want to enjoy now.


Bigger Purchases

As mentioned above, teaching your child to save for future purposes is a good idea.  You may consider having them put 20 percent, or whatever works best for your family, back with the idea of a bigger purchase.  Perhaps they have a family member they want to buy a nice birthday present for or there is a bigger plaything that they would like, such as a bike or video game.


Money in the Digital Age

By and far checkbooks are a thing of the past.  You may consider getting your child a bank account to keep their money in.  You can do a traditional account or one more geared towards children such as Greenlight or GoHenry.  These debit cards are geared towards kids that teach them how to be responsible with money digitally.



This debit card has a small monthly fee but makes it easy to show children that money doesn’t grow on trees.  It allows customizable chores and goals.  You can set how much money your child will earn from certain chores.  Likewise, they can put in their savings goal and see how it accumulates.  The app also shows how and wait your child is spending money, where they can see how much money they are spending on eating out or at a particular store.  Parents have control in that they can easily add and change the settings as they go.



Greenlight is similar to GoHenry.  You can create a chore list in the app, both with one-time occurrences and reoccurring.  Further, you can set up an allowance on your timeframe, weekly, biweekly, monthly.  Further you can choose to pay a flat rate, partial payment, or all or nothing for your child.

  • Flat rate – is allowance not tied to chores
  • Partial payment – a percentage of the total allowance is based on your child completing their chores.
  • All or nothing – only get their allowance after they have completed all their chores.



An interesting feature of FamZoo is that a bank account is not needed, you also have the option of reloading the FamZoo cards with cash at participating retailers.  In addition, you can access FamZoo from any device, such as a desktop, laptop, or mobile, so your child does not need a smartphone to access the app.  Another interesting feature is that you can assign “first dibs” chores to all children if you have more than one child, where first one to complete it gets the money.



This is a prepaid debit card and offers up to five cards in the family subscription if you have multiple kids.  BusyKid may be the bang for your buck as their monthly family subscription is less than the price for one child on other debit cards.  As with other options, you can assign chores and show your child how much they can earn.

This article provides you with a new activity outside of our products in the reading app for 3rd graders, 2nd graders, 1st graders, and preschoolers…


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Teach your kids the important lesson that money doesn’t grow on trees by following these simple tips.



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