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Silas and his self-imposed “budget” (AKA: Yes, your children are watching you!)

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We were at Cracker Barrel last week to celebrate Kathrynne’s 10th birthday. (I still cannot believe I have a daughter who is 10 years old. How did that happen?? I still feel like I’m 17!)

After we ate dinner as a family, we went out to the store to window shop for a bit. (My kids think Cracker Barrel is just about on the same level as the LEGO store! They love that place and I don’t blame them; they have such fun kid’s toys and games!)

I noticed Silas was on a mission in the toy section. He kept picking one toy up, looking at the price, and then putting it back. As he did this over and over again, I started following him around to try to determine what he was doing!

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It was then that he picked a toy up and triumphantly exclaimed, “Yes!! This is in my budget!”

I about burst out laughing right there in the store. First, because I hadn’t heard him use the word “budget” before. And secondly, because it sounded so grown up and funny to be coming from the mouth of a 5-year-old.

But I held my laughter in and instead asked him more about this budget of his. He explained to me that he has $30 at home in his piggy bank — money he’s collected from doing chores, birthday gifts, etc. — and he decided that he had a $10 budget to spend on something from Cracker Barrel. He didn’t want to spend all of his money, so he’d set the $10 budget to make sure he didn’t spend all his money.

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He said he hadn’t brought his money this time, so he was just looking to see what he could buy in his budget. Next time, he’d bring his money and buy the $10 or less toy.

As he recounted all of this to me, you can imagine how much I was grinning from ear to ear. I love that he’s learning money management skills from a young age.

But more than that, I was reminded of how much our kids are watching and learning. We’ve talked about basic money management with Silas (spending and saving, etc.), but we’ve never actually gone over what a budget is or why you should have one. So Silas has picked up the idea of budgeting from watching us and hearing things we’ve told to Kathrynne and Kaitlynn.

Silas and his "budget"It also reminded me of how important it is that I set a good example before my kids. Because it’s not just the words I’m saying that they are paying attention to; the life I’m living before them is what they are paying the most attention to.

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42 Comments

  • Autumn says:

    What a sweetie! That’s great, I enjoy watching your kiddos grow throughout these years. Thanks for sharing!

  • Kathleen Aispuro says:

    That is such a great story and that face is just too adorable.

  • He is so, so cute! And that is a great lesson for him to learn! Someday he (and his future wife!) will thank you!

  • Charity says:

    This is the most amazing thing i have heard all week! Thanks for sharing.

  • Melanie says:

    Teaching good money skills is one thing my hubby and I agree will be so very important as our toddler grows up. Does anyone have any good recommendations of books to read on teaching kids financial management skills?

    • Christy says:

      Smart Money Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruz. I believe his financial peace jr is on sale right now too

      • Tabitha says:

        Yes! Loved that book!

      • Tabitha says:

        Love this Crystal!
        My little one is four and he loves learning about money. On Fridays he gets paid from the chores he did durning the week and makes his list of what he’s going to buy at the store. What amazes me about it is when I ask him what he’s like to get at the store that day he thinks of what to buy for his brother and daddy. Lately he wants to get them each a granola bar. It’s fun watching him learn that money is used for saving, spending and most importantly giving. 🙂

    • Laury says:

      The book The Bank of Dad was life changing. We started it with our kids when they wear 3 & 5. They are now 14 & 16 and are both so responsible with money. My 16 year old is looking at colleges and insists that she wants to graduate with no debt. She also only shops sales and is so proud of the deals she gets. A few years ago my husband and I did Dave Ramsey’s financial peace university and listed to his CDs in the car. The kids both learned so much but they were almost teenagers. I haven’t read his kids book yet but I highly suggest both books.

  • Victoria says:

    LOVE IT! My middle child spent and entire year saving for a computer build (yep he built his own and that still blows me away he is 14 yrs old and learned it all from watching YouTube). I would beam from ear to ear with mama pride when he would turn down going to the movies with friends so he could save money for his computer. He also didn’t buy himself candy for the entire year. He asked for extra chores (I taught him how to paint our yard sale found furniture). He calculated and recalculated how much money he needed and how much time it would take to save it. Then when he had the money he spent hours searching for the best prices online and before he had me start his order he said “mom don’t forget to go through Swagbucks they were offering the best cash back deal for the store I am getting my computer parts at”. Yep they listen!

    • Katie says:

      These stories give me so much hope for the future as we raise our little girl. I grew up in financially dysfunction and it’s been a challenge to teach myself how to be a good steward of the money God’s given me. Hearing your account and others who have commented gives me so much more motivation to keep at it, because even though she’s only two, I know she’s watching me. Thanks for sharing!

  • That’s great! I think my children are so used to me shopping for clothing used or buying things at yard sales that they have “sticker-shock” in an actual store.

  • Carol says:

    Ha! My kids would always ask when they were little “Mommy can I have this cereal?..do we have a coupon on it?” They knew we didn’t buy anything without a coupon! 🙂

  • Lori Ewart says:

    Many of life’s lessons are caught not just taught. 🙂

  • Janet says:

    Ah! That is so wonderful. Our children certainly do learn from our example. Both of my girls have bought their own iPods as well as clothing items, books, etc. they wanted by learning to budget their money and save for what they want. My husband and I had to learn this as adults after making a lot of financial mistakes. I’m so thankful that my kids will have the skills they need to manage money wisely as adults.

  • Leah says:

    This is the cutest thing I’ve read all week!

  • Sarah says:

    AWWWWWWWWWWWWW! Wonderful! Cute! Adorable! Praiseworthy!

  • Lana says:

    I just love that boy! Way to go, Silas! And way to go Mom and Dad!

    Our youngest daughter was always that way about money from a very young age. Now she is almost 24 and already management in the accounting department of an international company. Silas may have accounting in his future!

  • Jennie C. says:

    Love the story…but love the photo series just as much… : )

  • annie says:

    One week ago today, my 19 year old daughter paid cash for her car. That savings goal was painful for us all.

    My husband asked her the other day if she appreciated it more than the car we bought for her (until she totaled it in a car accident last year), she replied with a resounding “yes”!!

    They do watch. Believe me.

    • Woohoo!!! So proud of her!

      • annie says:

        You’re absolutely right. We are proud of her. I guess that didn’t come across very well in my post.

        She gave up coffee drinks at her part time job, she watched her friends go to concerts, she sold clothes and other things on Facebook. Maybe we originally paid for some of those things but that wasn’t the point in our minds. She was creatively earning $2,500 with hard work.

        I think we were surprised the mist because we weren’t sure if she was up for the challenge.

  • Joyce says:

    My almost 8yo is saving money for her house!! :p

  • Susan says:

    Kids observe everything! Sometimes they do not say anything, but they are always watching and learning and filing info away in their small heads for future use…

    Just wanted to say that I have been reading your posts for several years now, and have watched your three kids grow up. You and your husband are doing an amazing job with them; if every parent in this country gave their kids the life lessons and teachable moments that your kids are receiving from you, it would be a big positive step! Keep up the good work!

  • I must say not only am I impressed he gave himself a budget and stuck to it but that he didn’t bring his money with him. That wasn’t so he could borrow the money and pay you later but he delayed his purchase until the next time he was at Cracker Barrel. He is watching and learning. : )

  • Tamboliya says:

    That is so cute, funny and encouraging. Thanks for sharing. I think God had you experience that to show you that you are being a good example to your child to bless your day. It is also very sobering as you say to be reminded how they are always watching and copying us. Gulp! Yikes! 🙂 But that’s great that he is copying a good thing that you are doing. Congrats on being a great mommy! ) Be encouraged. 🙂

  • Eunie says:

    Good job, Mom! That’s an amazing story!

  • Gary Armour says:

    When Silas reaches his teen years all of your “living an example” before him will really pay off. As a parent of adult children and grandparent for 20 years, I have many regrets that I wasn’t very consistent in the ways I brought up my own kids. But I cant go back and undo the things I did poorly. What I can do, though, is pray for my kids and grandkids, and I can pray for young parents like yourself who are making it a priority to live an example that will reward you later as your children mature. Keep up the good work of parenting while you build your business. Remember to keep God as #1, family as #2, and everything else as #3, #4, #5 … God bless you all!

    • Karen C says:

      Gary,
      It wasn’t until I reached the age and experience of being a grandparent that I was able to realize how much I screwed up as a parent! Don’t be so hard on yourself:)

      You sound like a good parent/grandparent to me.

      • Gary Armour says:

        Thanks for the kind words, Karen. What makes me the most sad is that I chose to walk away from God for 25 years after an especially hard divorce. It was during those years I was not very “present” for my children, and none are currently walking with Him today. Some of the grand-kids have come to know Him, but some are near parenting age themselves and have no idea of the great responsibility.

        Crystal and Jesse have realized the responsibility God has given them to bring up their three precious children in His way. Posts like this one about Silas show that their teaching by example is paying off. I’m so proud of them!

  • What a smart little guy! It is amazing what they can pick up at such a young age. I would have been grinning from ear to ear too!

  • Karen C says:

    I loved this!
    I daycare my just turned 4 grandson almost full time. Each week I give him a “paycheck” for real chores that he does for me. When his bank is full (3-4 times a year) we count it.
    10% to charity
    40% goes home to his parents for his long term savings
    50% is his to buy anything he wants and we go shopping

    He’s not up to understanding an actual “budget” yet, but he’s learning! He asks me “can I afford this?” and “Grandma, do you have a coupon for this?”. Last shopping trip he had 76 cents leftover and he made the decision to save it and add it to his shopping money the next time we empty his bank. Score! Good financial decision.

    I agree that they learn through osmosis!

  • Oh, this is amazing! Only goes to show that you’re one great role model to Silas and he’s learning a lot by the way you live. This proves once again that the best way to teach our kids is by setting an example for them to follow.

  • Kelly Cox says:

    Love this post. So glad he is learning. Amazing and precious stuff.

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