I’ve started my four-year-old on an allowance structure and a chore chart. I also have a mini-envelope system with spending and saving set up, but I’m having trouble helping him distinguish between the two. How can I solve this? — Monica
At that age, any type of saving is going to be more of a glorified, long-term spending plan. The point is to teach them to delay gratification when you’re first starting out. And when you’re only four, two weeks is long term.
The contents of the spending envelope should be kind of spontaneous. Let him take it on trips to the store, and if he wants a pack of gum or whatever, he can get it. The saving envelope, though, stays at home. Then, as he grows and his mind and reasoning develops a little more, you can really start teaching him about long-term goals and how to get there—including giving.
Don’t try to force a four-year-old to think five or 10 years into the future. We’re just trying to teach lessons here, and it doesn’t have to be done perfectly. Just be intentional, and try to find teachable moments as you go along! — Dave