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How to Teach Financial Responsibility to Kids & Teens with ADHD

As a parent, the number one goal at the end of the line is to raise your children to be independent adults. There are several components to total independence, for example, self-care, life skills, job skills, self-advocacy, and financial responsibility.

How to Teach Kids & Teens with ADHD to be Responsible with Money

In order to grow into a financially responsible adult, you need to start teaching kids about money while they’re young.

In fact, a study at the University of Cambridge found that children’s money habits are formed by the time they’re 7 years old.

If your child has special needs, they may or may not have the potential to be 100% independent as adults. But – your job as a parent is to teach them to be as independent as possible.

Why Teaching Kids About Money Matters for ASD & ADHD Children

Teaching Kids with ADHD About Money and Financial Responsibility #ADHDKids

Children with ASD or ADHD usually have executive dysfunction. This means, compared to their peers, they’re typically about 30% behind when it comes to things like critical thinking, problem-solving, goal setting & execution, time management, organization, etc.

So, because of that delay, it’s important to start teaching kids about money and financial responsibility early.

It may take them longer to understand these concepts than it does for their peers. It may also take longer for them to develop the foresight required to plan ahead and efficiently budget as an adult.

Parents often don’t think about these things with their kids because so much of their focus goes into more pressing and immediate issues.

For example, you may be working extra hard to teach your child how to communicate their wants and needs, or how to help your child focus on their school work.

With so much effort going into these day to day tasks, teaching your kids about money may end up on the back burner.

It’s important to stop and think about little things you can do each day to teach financial responsibility.

How to Start Teaching Kids About Money

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to teaching kids about money. How you start will depend on your child’s age and abilities

You need to keep the concepts easily understandable for your child. Then you can expand on their knowledge over time.

Some concepts about money to teach your child

There are many components to financial independence. Here are some of the things you’ll need to consider teaching your child.

  • Work (chores) vs responsibilities
  • The difference between wanting something and needing something
  • The value of a dollar
  • Saving for the future
  • How (and why) to budget

Strategies for Teaching Money to Kids with ADHD

Strategies for Teaching Kids About Money

This is an overview of some strategies parents can use to teach their children about money from an early age. When choosing strategies to help your own children, it’s important to start with concepts that will be easy for your child to understand and have success with.

1. Model Appropriate Money Habits

Children are easily influenceable. It’s important for parents to start teaching kids about money by modeling financial responsibility themselves and involving your child.

  • Talk to your children about advertising. From a young age, children need to know what advertising is. There are plenty of ads out there designed to target kids, from things like new toy and games to cereals to in-app ads on their tablets. Children need to know these ads are designed to get people to spend money and create an ideal but not always the true image of a product.
  • Count money with your children. Teach your children how much money you (or they) have by counting out loud and teaching them how to count money.
  • Involve them in your spending. Obviously, children shouldn’t be involved in big financial decisions and you don’t need to talk to them about your mortgage payment or your phone bill. But you should involve them in smaller purchases. Buying yourself a coffee? Show them what money you have, what it costs for that coffee, and what you get back.

2. Give Them Both Chores and Responsibilities

It’s important for children to learn the difference between their responsibilities, and work. You can teach them this by expecting them to have and do both.

Responsibilities are tasks they have to do. Chores are tasks they can do to earn money.

Happy Homemaking covers the importance of this concept for all children in their smart money article.

As adults, we’re responsible for keeping our houses clean, taking care of our personal hygiene, taking care of our kids, paying bills, etc. We don’t get paid to do these things, we do them because we have to.

As adults, we also go to work to earn money. We do get paid for work tasks and it’s good for kids to learn the difference from early on.

Examples of Responsibilities for Children

  • Brush your teeth
  • Go to school
  • Do your homework
  • Clean your bedroom
  • Bath/Shower
  • Eat dinner
  • Tidy up after yourself
  • Feed the family pet

Examples of Chores for Children

  • Load the dishwasher
  • Wipe down the tables
  • Set the table
  • Clean the windows
  • Fold laundry
  • Sweep the floor
  • Take out the garbage

3. Pay Them Only For The Work They Do

Don’t give your child a set allowance that they get every week. Your child shouldn’t be given money just for existing

. Instead, their allowance should be paid based on the actual work they’ve completed. So, if they do nothing they get nothing. And the more they do, the more they make.

This needs to be an organized and consistent system.

  • You need to create a responsibility chart and a chore chart
  • Set a specific rate your child will be paid for various chores
  • Keep a chore log to track what they’ve done
  • Pay their earnings to them on the same day bi-weekly (like a real job does)

This will help your child learn that when they get paid they need to spend wisely and make their money last until their next payday. It’ll also teach them that if they need more money for something, like that new video game they want, they’ll need to put in some extra work.

4. Require Them to Save Money

Decide on an amount your child should save and “deduct” that from their pay. This should be a predetermined percentage of their earning that you set aside for them in a high-interest savings account.

As adults, we have many deductions on our paychecks that don’t get saved for us for later. These savings or “deductions” should be put away for when your child is an adult.

A good general rule would be to put 30% of their earnings into a savings account for them and let them choose how they spend the remainder.

5. Use a Clear Jar for a Piggy Bank

Dave Ramsey recommends using a clear jar as a piggy bank for children that are saving money. This gives children a visual oh what they’ve saved. It’s motivating to watch the jar fill up with more and more money.

If your child wants to buy a big-ticket item, they should save up for it over time. What they chose to save is in addition to the required savings you’ve already deducted for their savings account.

6. Help Them Make Their Own Budget

As your child grasps more concepts surrounding financial responsibility you can help them make their own little budget. They can use their budget to estimate their monthly earnings (based on the work they’ve been doing and logging), and to plan what they can afford to buy, and how much they should save for big purchases, etc.

It’s a good idea to start doing a monthly budget with your child as soon as they are mature enough to understand the concepts behind the budget. Budgeting is a crucial skill that many adults can’t even do well.

Choosing Appropriate Chores

There’s no such thing as “age-appropriate chore” or age-appropriate anything for that matter, when your child has ASD, ADHD, or other special needs.

It’s important to choose developmentally appropriate chores. Ideally, you should select household chores for your child that they can do well on their own, or if that’s not possible, with very little assistance from you. What that looks like exactly will be an individual thing.

This also creates opportunities for your child to learn new things around the house and take on more responsibility as they become able.

Use visuals and task strips to break down chores visually. This will ensure your child’s success.

Visual Resources for Chores:

These are some resources created by myself or others that you can download and use to help break down responsibilities and chores for your child.

Tracking & Paying Your Child’s Earnings

You need to put a system in place that will make it easy to track which chores your child completed, and how much they’ve earned. This system should be simple enough that your child can look it over and understand it as well.

You need to set up a savings account for your child and decide if you’ll also get them a debit card to use or pay the remainder of their allowance in cash. I do recommend using cash because it helps make the concept of money more “real”.

Financial Responsibility Workbook – For Kids

This workbook is designed for elementary school-aged children. For preteens and teens, see the app below.

You can track your child’s responsibilities, chores, and earnings with the financial responsibility workbook. You can also work with your child on creating a monthly budget for them with a simple budget sheet. Plus, help them create and reach savings goals.

The Financial Responsibility Workbook includes:

  • Responsibilities checklist
  • List of chores
  • Chore completion log
  • Payday and deduction examples
  • Fill-in-the-blank pay stubs
  • Budget worksheet
Teaching Kids About Money with Financial Responsibility Booklet - Printable

After you download the worksheets, go through and fill in the blanks with developmentally appropriate chores and earnings.

A rule of thumb is that children should earn between $0.50-1.00 per year of age, each week. So if your child is 8 they should be able to earn between $4.00 and $8.00 per week if they complete their chores.

For us, most chores are worth 50 cents each, with a couple of the bigger jobs being worth $1.00. My son is able to complete 2 paid chores per day if his responsibilities are also completed.

Have a preteen or teen?

If you’re working on teaching financial responsibility to older kids, there is an online app called Wallit that’s designed to help you, while also teaching teens about banking.

The app is designed to help families with teens manage money, budgeting, saving, chores, etc. You can set allowances, assign chores and then approve them for payment, and see the whole families spending habits.

You can even indicate within the app which percentage of your child’s allowance goes to a savings account, which percentage is for spending, and which percentage is for them to save for a bigger purchase they want. The app integrates with your online banking app.

When your child’s bank account is connected to the Wallit app they can only spend the amount you’ve approved so they can’t dip into savings or overdraw their accounts.

Wallit Features:

  • Dashboard: Gives your child real-time access to their accounts to help manage financial activity
  • Allowance Manager & Task Scheduler: Helps you automate and manage allowances and chores.
  • Goal Planned: Allows you and your child to set short, medium, and long term savings goals.
  • Spending Chart: For your child to budget and track their monthly spending
  • Account Aggregation: Connect with your child’s bank accounts so you can easily view their balance and spending activity.
  • Money Transfers: You can quickly and easily send money to your kids for any reason at all.
  • Shopping: Teens can actually shop online directly through the app, using their allowance at retailers like Amazon, Sephora, Walmart and many more. No credit card required and they can’t spend more than the limit you set.

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