Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Authorize DIY Projects To Hone Your Kid's Money (And Life) Skills

Son With Home Built Gaming Computer

Your kid has big DIY project ideas. Build an awesome gaming computer. Construct a skateboard ramp. Redecorate the bedroom.

As a busy parent, your first instinct is to hedge.

“Time suck!” you’re thinking. Let your kid take charge.

“Money suck!” you’re thinking. Demand a budget.

“Bound to fail!” you’re thinking. Lower your bar.

Years ago, I was skeptical when one of my sons (13 at the time) wanted to build his own gaming computer — one that would be more powerful and less expensive than a high-end off-the-shelf model. Sure kid.

I finally relented and authorized the project.

He researched and picked the parts, optimizing for the perfect balance of price and performance based on his specific needs.

We chased down obscure assembly instructions together online.

We battled through some software hiccups and compatibility issues together.

We — but mostly he — succeeded.

He learned to research, to compare, to budget, to be resourceful, to troubleshoot, to persevere.

I learned to let go of the reins a bit.

We bonded.

Recently, a mom on a popular NPR personal finance Facebook group reported a similar DIY experience:

“For Christmas, I gave my 11-year-old daughter a certain amount of $ for decorating her new room. This turns out to be a GREAT practical money management exercise for kids. She is online researching chairs, rugs & bedspreads. She is learning what things cost, about trade offs, taxes, and how to get everything she wants while sticking to her limit or less. I highly recommend it to parents!”

I won’t need to see any “after” pictures of her daughter’s room to declare that DIY project a winner. Look at those money (and life) lessons. Pure gold.

So, what DIY project can you authorize for your kid?

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1 comment:

  1. It's always better to nurture than to discourage. And just like you've said, you need to give them a little to see whether they'll fly or not. Let them manage their own finances and time lines and give it all they've got!