Smart About Money: Helping Others

Smart About Money: Helping Others

Giving back to our community is an important part of our lives. As busy adults, we sometimes substitute writing a check for direct involvement in a cause that is important to us. When kids are young, though, simply handing over money – or worse, money substitutes like checks or credit card numbers – doesn’t make an impact. It’s too easy. Kids need to give their time and have hands-on involvement for their community service to be meaningful to them. Charities need us to write those valuable and important checks, but to really instill a charitable sense into our children’s souls, the children need to be involved.

Choosing a Charity

My daughter, Madelyn, is a member of a Brownie Troop. For their Fall project last year, the girls brainstormed five different charity options and voted to decide which one was going to be the most meaningful for them. They learned about an inner-city school that had a special shelf of books to give to students who did not have books of their own. The girls saw a picture of this bookshelf, and it had only a couple of handfuls of books on it. There was a lot of empty space, and this situation really resonated with the Brownies. They wanted to help put books on that shelf and in the hands of kids at the school. What really motivated the choice was the idea that the kids at this school didn’t have their own personal libraries – which are books on a shelf in their bedroom at home. It came as a shock because the Brownies were used to having books at their fingertips. They saw bookshelves in their bedrooms or at home overflowing with books and realized they had to help.

Children already have an innate sense of helping others. It’s our job as parents to create the opportunity for them to see that there are others less fortunate and in need and show them how to help. Involving them from the beginning in the selection of the charity is very important. It also needs to be a charity they can understand, that has tangible benefits that they can see and relate to. Finding a charity that focuses on other children can be especially meaningful because it allows kids to put themselves more easily in the shoes of those other children.

The Personal Payoff

My daughter’s Troop went into this with the goal of collecting 100 books. They ended up collecting 500 more than they needed. They were overwhelmed by the generosity of others and thankful they could be a part of helping other kids. For the girls, it took a lot of coordination and problem solving, but it was worth it. As my daughter said, “You just have to get your mind to it and that you’re going to do it and you’re not going to give up. And you just do it.”

Charitable giving is part of the financial literacy skillset we need to be teaching our children. It is a building block that needs to be practiced. First, our kids see us in action with our own charitable giving. Then we help them find ways in which they can decide how to give and feel invested in it. With practice and repetition, their imaginative and impactful giving will become a lifelong habit.

Any opinions are those of Traci Richmond CFP® and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Every investor’s situation is unique and you should consider your investment goals, risk tolerance and time horizon before making any investment. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.

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