A field service engineer in Maryville, Tennessee, Hartford wants Skyler, 10, to understand money basics, from simple banking concepts to cost versus value. Spending can lead to a good outcome or to nothing at all, he said.
Both parents talk about cost and value in terms Skyler can understand. If a toy costs $20 or $30 but is likely to break within a few days, is it worthwhile spending that money?
For about a year the family has been holding regular monthly budget meetings.
Since then, Hartford has watched his son’s spending habits change.
“He wants things that have more value,” he said.
Some video games run as high as $60, and Skyler will look for ways to save up or earn money for these. He is more interested in cost and value.
Skyler can earn money doing chores, and he is tasked with managing the family’s $100 monthly lawn-care budget. When he wants something, his parents will ask him to look around the house to see what he can do — take out trash or do dishes, for instance — to earn the money.
“He will usually negotiate, and he understands that he needs to do something that helps out so he can get something.”
Hartford’s advice is to be patient.
“They’re coming from no knowledge at all on the subject,” he said. “We try to use basic terms and oversimplify things.”