3 Easy Ways to Teach Your Child to Share

The Share jar. There it stands. Alone. In The Money Mammals’ three-jar system, which goes along with our “We’ll Share & Save & Spend Smart” mantra, the Share jar can sometimes feel like a black sheep.

I suppose it depends on with which side of the food chain you empathize. Unless you are raising the next Mother Theresa, you’ll typically find that the Save and Spend jars tend to get far more attention when teaching financial education to your kids. Here are three ways to make that Share jar more meaningful:

1. Make the Share jar a habit. – First, you need to set up an allowance and make sure that your child puts some amount into the jar every week. There are many rules of thumb that people use. It’s really a matter of personal preference. For example, you can use a percentage, but doing 10% of an eight-dollar allowance might be more of a pain in the tuchis than it’s worth.

Of course, adding a little extra math is never a bad thing. We’re a little more practical (ok, maybe just lazy) in our house, so we just say one of the eight dollars MUST go in the Share jar. Once again, this emphasizes the importance of automating money behaviors. (Of course, if you feel eight is too many dollars for your eight- or nine-year-old’s allowance, it’s your prerogative to reduce the amount.)

“Make sure that your child puts some amount into the jar every week.”
2. Be a role model. – My wife is the ultimate role model for the kids since she’s been volunteering her time from day one. I was a little later to the party, but we both certainly now do our share for various organizations. Sure, we also make charitable contributions, and it’s important to talk to your kids about those.

But when your kids see your doing pro bono work in the community, they’ll get that it’s all about the village. This is particularly true if they see your enjoying those efforts. It’s cliché because it’s true: Kids do what you do, not what you say.

3. Shower attention on the Share jar. – This will help your kids start to amass money in that Share jar. However, if there isn’t a periodic effort to remember this jar, it can easily remain sad and alone. Make a conscious effort with your kids to monitor the jar or to notice that it’s fattening up. When it’s full, feed the many charitable opportunities that are available. There are always opportunities at schools, such as UNICEF at Halloween, Thanksgiving drives and other charitable collections that happen periodically throughout the school year.

Of course, if you are part of a religious institution, that’s another good place to donate Share jar funds. You can even go online and search for a meaningful charity with your kids. Thanksgiving and #givingtuesday may have passed, but now is as good a time as any to help bring that Share jar out of hiding. Here are just a few of the organizations that we think are terrific: