Children and Finance


Note:  This Article Originally Appeared in the May/June 2014 Issue of Parent and Family 

By Eric Simonds, MsFP, Saltwater Harbor Financial


In my financial planning practice the focus is on the client, not just their bank balance. As a result, I spend a fair amount of time helping people get past their  unhelpful beliefs about money. Personal finance is just that, personal, and since a  majority of a person’s feelings and opinions about money are formulated while they are still young, this topic is one that is both emotional and absolutely necessary to address.


The fact is, if people sent their child the same message about eating their vegetables as they did about money, you’d be shocked if that kid ever touched another carrot!


My wife and I recently dealt with this in our home as my oldest son, Graham, started asking for increasingly expensive toys. Graham loves Thomas trains and has quite a collection (which we bought entirely off Craigslist for a fraction of the price), but since new movies come out and new ad campaigns tell him he needs newer, better and more, Graham was on the verge of an expensive habit. We were aware there were many solutions that involved the word “No”, a word we are no stranger to, but we thought this could be a learning experience, and we were right.


We bought Graham the new train ($12) , left it in the package and hung it on the wall, then got a mason jar which we placed on the windowsill behind the kitchen sink (for all to see). We worked together and made an earning chart by tracing a quarter 48 times, and hung it next to the train. We then created jobs he could do and told him that he would earn a quarter for each job he did.

FD Strong Children

The results were amazing! Not only did he start helping around the house, but he also started proposing new jobs that he could do. Emptying the dish washer, putting clothes in the laundry room and cleaning off the table after dinner! We had originally estimated it would take him a month to earn 48 quarters, but he did it in 8 days with his can-do attitude and dedication.


I know what you are thinking – sure that works on a four year old, but how about a 14 year old?


Here are three basic techniques that I (and my clients) have found that transcend ages.

Graham “Gray” Simonds, (Age 4)
Hard Worker, Future Scientist, Fan of Ice Cream

Start at zero (dollars per week)- A child should not have a fixed allowance, as that represents a salary, they should instead be paid when and if they complete a job. Different jobs should have different pay and if they choose not to work, you should choose not to pay them. They should not receive money just because they are breathing as our goal is to have them grow into responsible adults, not members of Congress. No work, no pay.


Show them the fruits of their labor- An old farmer once told me the secret to get kids to pick potatoes was to pay them daily in $1 bills. He once tried to pay the kids by check at the end of the week, but by Thursday only two of the kids returned. Small bills and change are the best for visual motivation.


Value their work- Expecting acceptable work is a must, but inspecting their work is important. Give them the respect (and take advantage of the teaching opportunity) by spending time to review and critique their work. Demand and only accept their best effort, but make sure that all advice is accompanied by positive comments.


This is just one of the many topics you can discuss with your fee-only financial planner. Please contact me with questions, comment or article ideas.

Eric Simonds, MsFP is the owner and founder of Saltwater Harbor Financial. Eric is a fee-only financial planner, which means he does not sell anything and never accepts commissions on those recommendations made to his clients. He and his wife, Kathryn, are the proud parents of two boys and currently live in Brunswick, Maine. Eric may be contacted via his website or at 888-480-2650.



Eric Simonds has a passion for helping others. Over the past 12 years, Eric has gained his skills and credentials through both private and public sector careers in policy and compliance. This experience, in addition to his Masters of Financial Planning from Golden Gate University, allows him to provide quality financial planning to all Maine families through Saltwater Harbor. Eric takes great pride in operating his own financial planning practice, knowing he makes a difference in the lives of his clients. His motivation for success is fueled by his clients’ accomplishments and ability to achieve their financial dreams with his guidance.

Eric is both a 2011 National Huguenot Scholarship recipient and the sole 2012 National Association Professional Financial Advisors Merit Scholar. In addition to his Masters in Financial Planning, Eric also holds Bachelor degrees from both the University of Maine and the University of Southern Maine. Highly involved in his local community and family, he resides in Brunswick with his wonderful wife, Kate, their two amazing sons, two naughty dogs and a cat.