Archive for Kids and Money

The Three Jars: Benefits & Lessons Learned

Welcome back, Scott Arnold, CFP ® to conclude his 2-part blog on using the Three Jars method to help teach his young boys life and money lessons.


When my wife and I started The Three Jars with our boys, we thought it would help us in teaching them basic lessons about money.  The Jars have done this and much more. Here are some of the main lessons and benefits.


Splitting your paycheck into various accounts before you spend it.

Imagine if all of us learned the valuable lesson of paying yourself (savings) and supporting your passion (giving) first.  We are all creatures of habit, whether your 6 years old or 30 years old, if you pay yourself first, you will adapt to your cash flow and be able to build up your investment accounts to reach your goals.


Goal setting.

It used to be frustrating to take the boys to the store because every aisle was a battle.  Now the conversation has flipped into a learning opportunity.  We let them know they can buy the item they want but it will come out of their money.  If they spend more than what is in the “Spend” Jar for the month then they will lose interest for the month.  We also remind them of the previous goals they set for themselves and how this impulse purchase will make it take even longer before they can reach their goal.  Their current goals are an electric ATV and a hover board!  It is amazing how they stop asking for that candy bar in the check-out lane when they know it would come from their money.



After the boys realized the money in the jars is theirs, they became very focused on counting it correctly.  They even like to pull out the jars from time to time to count the money again.  We were amazed at how quickly they understood the concept of interest and how to calculate it.  Our 6-year-old correctly calculated 5% interest on his $230 savings this past Sunday.


Family time!

Time is such a valuable commodity nowadays with work, school, Cub Scouts and soccer pulling us in different directions.  It is nice to sit down with the entire family on Sunday to play The Three Jars.  The Q&A before we pay them and the paying/counting of the money leads to great discussions and learning opportunities with the whole family.  In our busy worlds it’s nice to get everyone together and focused for 30 minutes.


The Three Jars has helped us develop a weekly system to talk to our children about the value of money, spending, saving, giving and incorporating family time as well. We hope The Three Jars will do the same for your family, it is a great tool to have more money and life conversations with your children.


scott arnold, denver CFP


Scott Arnold, CFP®, has been in the financial services industry since 1998.  He is the founder of IMPACTfolio.  A wealth management firm that specializes in sustainable and IMPACT investing.  For more information, visit

Three Jars: Teach Your Children Life Lessons About Money


This week and next, I’m thrilled to welcome guest blogger and fellow financial planner Scott Arnold, CFP ® to discuss how using the Three Jars method has helped teach his kids life and money lessons.  Take it away, Scott!


My wife and I have two incredible boys, ages 8 & 6.  Their personalities are very different, but one thing they have in common is an understanding of money.  We have used The Three Jars with them for the past two years and here is how it has helped our family.


We have tweaked the rules over the years with experience.  I’ll lay out the rules this week.  In next week’s blog, I’ll highlight the benefits and life lessons we have been able to teach them.


The Three Jars Method


Find three jars (glass or plastic) per child.   Each jar is labeled as “Spend”, “Save” or “Give”.  Here is a link with pre-made labels.


Every week each boy receives three one-dollar bills.  We do not tie the weekly payments to chores or use it as a disciplinary tool because money lessons cannot be taught unless they receive the payments.


One dollar is put in each Sunday.  The boys are very focused before they get paid so we added a little twist before their payment.  We use this opportunity to ask them three questions.  The questions are random and cover anything from, “What is mom’s cell phone number?” to, “How do you escape the house in a fire?”  They like to show us how they would crawl out of their bedroom and down the steps.  Even if they get the answers wrong, they still get the three dollars.


At the beginning of the month, each child decides how much money he wants to put in the “Spend” jar and how much money will stay in the “Save” jar.


At the end of the month, the “Save” jar will receive 5% interest.  They count the money and calculate the interest.  You would be amazed how fast they will learn when they know they are the ones receiving the money.  We double-check their math.


If a boy spends more money than what is available in his “Spend” jar for the month, they are penalized and do not receive interest for that month.


In December, the boys decide which non-profit they want to support with their “Give” jar money.  We do this on CO Gives Day.  It is an easy way for them to look at the various non-profits, also institutions may match your donation to increase the impact.  They have given to Smile Train, Chihuahua & Small Dog Rescue, Hire Heroes USA and school initiatives to help buy school supplies.


So, that’s how it works.  Stay tuned next week for the benefits and lessons learned using the Three Jars method.



scott arnold, denver CFP


Scott Arnold, CFP®, has been in the financial services industry since 1998.  He is the founder of IMPACTfolio.  A wealth management firm that specializes in sustainable and IMPACT investing.  For more information, visit

Top Summer Jobs for Teenagers

summer jobs, denver financial planner

I can’t believe it.  My niece, who was just an infant yesterday, is now lifeguarding at the neighborhood pool where I grew up!  The family is promising her lots of visits in our string bikinis to support her and she is thrilled at the prospect.


What else are kids doing for money this summer?  While many employers only want to hire year-round workers, there are plenty of seasonal opportunities out there.

Here are some ideas


  • Amusement Parks hire for ticket sellers, food prep, and ride monitors.
  • Summer Camps! A great way to play around for a job and not spend any money because you are too tired (or tucked away from civilization) to blow your paycheck at the mall.
  • Farms will hire younger folks for weeding, watering, and working local produce stands.
  • Sports venues need people to sell food, take tickets, answer questions, and clean up.
  • Jobs at resorts, such as housekeeping, gift shop clerk, bellman/woman, and kid camp helpers.
  • Start your own business mowing lawns, tutoring, washing cars, or babysitting.
  • Work for your town. Denver has a Summer Youth Employment Program ( and a quick Google search will probably yield results in your town, too.
  • IT consultant. You know those annoying questions your parents are always asking about how to use their phones?  People without teenagers need help, too!  Make up some flyers and advertise around your neighborhood to offer phone and computer help to hapless middle-agers.


What to do with all that hard-earned cash?  Spend a little, save some for college, and ask your parents about helping you set up your first Roth IRA!

Kristi’s Quotes: Liz Weston Asks about Kids and Money

Financial Planner
Who was interviewed by Liz Weston with the Associated Press? Me, that’s who!


Financial planners and credit counselors see plenty of examples. The grown son who lost a job, moved home and stopped looking for work. The daughter who constantly mismanaged her checking account — and turned to payday lenders when parents stopped covering her overdrafts. The father working into his 70s to support spendthrift children in their 40s and 50s.

Kristi Sullivan, a certified financial planner in Denver, once worked with an elderly couple whose offspring constantly turned to them for help.

“The clients couldn’t understand why their grandchildren had all the latest iPads and phones, but when a car or home repair came up, their adult children always had to ask them for money,” Sullivan said….

Click here for more….

Are You Doing Allowance Right?

Ha! That was just an attention grabber.  There isn’t really a right or wrong way to manage allowance, as long as you are consistent and communicate the rules to your kids.


The big controversy is whether to tie allowance to chores.  Some say that allowance should be earned by doing specific work around the house.  Others maintain that allowance is a tool to kids about managing money and household chores should not be rewarded with pay.  After all, does Dad get paid for cooking dinner or Mom for cleaning the kitchen?  No!


My husband and I disagreed on this, so we came up with a hybrid system.  Some chores are required no matter what and that’s what your allowance pays you for.  In our house, those include making the bed, taking care of the cats, lawn mowing/shoveling snow, taking out trash, and setting the table for meals.  Other things above and beyond can be negotiated for extra pay.  My personal favorite is cleaning the baseboards which I HATE to do and am glad to pay minor a few bucks to do for me.


We also use the system of requiring part of allowance to go into a Save bank and a Give bank.  This hopefully gets in their minds that not every penny earned is to be spent on pleasure.


We’ve had hiccups.  My older son was raiding his Save bank for large purchases and I didn’t know for a while.  So I hid that bank from him because he can be sneaky.  A bank account would be a MUCH better learning tool, but frankly, I’ve been too lazy to start that because it means extra trips to the bank for me.  Plus with rates so low, it’s not like they get to see the beauty of compounding interest.


So you see, even a financial planner has holes in her allowance policy, but we are all doing the best we can with the time and patience allotted.  Keep trying, parents!  It’s worth it in the end.