Teaching kids that less is more

If the recession has held any glimmer of a silver lining, it may be the growing movement away from traditional American overconsumption.  Simplifying can make you happier, and it’s great for your budget.  But it can be hard to enforce a low-budget Zen lifestyle on your kids, especially if they’re used to a pretty regular stream of new stuff.  As parents know, more toys don’t always mean more fun, and kids’ imaginations can often outdo any new toy by far.  But in case your kids aren’t on the same page yet, here are a few ideas for helping them understand the value of money.

  • Organize a yard sale: Try using the earnings to plan a fun family getaway.  Let the kids get involved by picking out the toys they want to sell and the reward activity.
  • Get the kids involved in charity giving: Educate your kids about inequalities in the world, and have them donate some of their toys, clothes or books to less fortunate kids.
  • Slow down: If your kid wants something, make him research the product first so he can see that there’s some due diligence that has to go with every new purchase.
  • Give an allowance: Help your kids manage their money by creating different piggy banks – one for spending and one for saving.  Give them room to make mistakes and buy things they will regret, so that they learn to be more careful.

By no means is this an exhaustive list. To the parents out there, what tips can you share with us for helping kids understand that sometimes, when it comes to things, less is often more?