I recently attended a homeschool educator’s conference, and one of the talks stressed teaching your kids personal finance. We have too many kids entering college who not only have to feed and clothe themselves for the first time, but they are also having to motivate themselves, wake themselves, go to class by their own motivation, and also somehow pay for it all.
Personal finance is barely taught in High School. But if you start early and they have several years to master their finances and make mistakes when it’s still in the safety of home, they are less likely to wind up with huge financial mistakes as adults.
I remembered my dad teaching me how to manage my finances as a child, so I decided to go visit all the vendors and see what I could find.
I. Found. Nothing.
So I decided that I would make something up myself.
PART ONE: MY METHOD
My kids have received an allowance for awhile, but my husband and I decided that it’s time for our oldest to manage his finances more on his own. This is a scary idea for me, but I’m diving in.
My son is 10 and will be entering 6th grade in the fall. Since I want him to learn how to fully manage his finances, he will now have a salary starting at $10/week and will be responsible for all his own expenses such as: clothing, shoes, toys, treats, etc.
Since we live in an electronic world, my son will be dealing with somewhat virtual money. Each week we will enter $10 onto his check register as a “direct deposit”. Any money he receives as a gift or from other earnings can be deposited into his “account” with a deposit slip.
When he has a purchase to make he has these options:
1) He can write a check to cash or fill out a withdrawal slip and get cash directly from me.
2) When we are at the store he can write a check “to the store” and I will purchase it for him and deduct it from his “account”.
The goal of this whole process is for him to start figuring out how balancing needs and wants actually works. If he runs out of money, he will have to make the choice to go without or find a way to earn more money. He can decide to buy new or used, to buy all that he wants and wear clothes with holes (this idea has me a little scared), or make his coat last another year. Hopefully will learn to take better care of what he has once he learns the true cost of his possessions.
PART TWO: MATERIALS
When searching online I had a hard time finding pretend checks. Check printers won’t print bogus checks, and I didn’t want him using something too childish. So I created my own! Since I went through all the work, I thought I’d share it with you.
Download my blank fake checks here. This file is what I created to make into his own checkbook, check register, and withdrawal and deposit slips. I kept it in Excel format so you can easily add your child’s name and address to personalize it. You may need to test print a few to make sure it prints correctly on your printer and format accordingly.
On the first tab are the checks. So that you can make a book with correct number sequence, it is formatted so that you can change the first check (top and bottom check numbers) and it will adjust the following checks. I tried to make these as realistic as possible so that it is a good learning experience.
Print as many checks as you would like to start with, two sheets should work well for each book. I have them with colored backgrounds. You can also change everything to white and print on colored paper to save on ink.
First print, cut (I used a paper cutter for this whole process), and stack your checks together:
You can just stop here and have individual checks, but to have a realistic checkbook you will need a sewing machine. Stack a few at a time and sew thread-less with your machine. Warning, this may dull your needle:
Stack together as many as you think your stapler can handle (I did 10-12), and staple face down to a manilla folder or card stock:
Fold the card stock over at the perforation and then again at the top, and trim to fit your checks:
Now they’re ready to put in your checkbook!
The second and third tabs may be the most difficult step due to formatting, sorry! You will print the first tab and then put the sheets back into your printer so that you can print the second tab and make the register double sided. You can also skip this step and just ask for a register at your bank branch!
After you successfully get it to double sided print, cut them out and fold them in half:
There is one page that has the labels in the middle, this is the page that you will have on the outside:
You need to cut a piece of card stock to be the same size, fold it in half as well and that will be your cover:
Staple at the seam and your register is done:
You can use an old checkbook cover or your bank may have some in stock you can use:
The Withdrawal and Deposit slips should be the easiest to cut and finish.
These checks can have so many purposes other than using them to manage your child’s finances. You could also make an economics/personal finance course. I found a great resource called The Checkbook Project that you could use as a course for your child, I will be modifying it for a co-op class this fall.
I hope you have a lot of fun with this!