If your children think money grows on trees, then make saving money a game. You may get some push back at first, but as they realize how much fun saving can be, you may have to tell them its okay to spend some money!
Watch the Money Add Up. Display a picture of the prized purchase next to a drawing of an empty thermometer and have your child color it in as they earn and save. He will be able to see how much he has saved and how much closer he is to his savings goal.
Encourage children to save by contributing to their savings. When they are little you can contribute dollar for dollar, but as they get older matching 50 percent of their savings may be enough encouragement to help them reach their savings goals. If there is a big purchase he's been desperately saving for, surprise him by splitting the cost at the register and have him deposit the other half into savings.
Create a wish list with your children to help them prioritize the need for stuff. It's also helpful around birthdays and holidays when family members are looking to give. Perhaps grandma can buy or contribute to the big picture gift instead of giving a bunch of smaller gifts.
Sit down as a family and talk about how money comes into the house. Let your children talk, then explain how you must pay bills, buy gas, food, clothes, toys, etc. Put a jar in the family room, encourage all family members to drop loose change into it and when the jar gets filled up choose a fun family activity that you can all do together.
Eliminate the need for I want it now! Depending on the monetary value of the purchase, set a time frame for getting it. For example, if the item costs $10 wait 3 days, $20 wait a week, $50 two weeks, $100 or more a month. That way either your child will have real incentive to earn and save his money for said item, or he'll forget he ever wanted it.
Encouraging savings when your children are young will teach them to be good stewards of money later on in life.
Nikki Ducas is a Fredericksburg mom to an active 4-year-old. She is always thinking about economics and uses her time with her son as teachable moments.