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Dogs Can Teach Kids About Money, Too

If you have a family pet, and kids older than seven or eight years old, it’s likely that you’re giving some of the responsibility for taking care of the pet to your child. This is a great idea – it not only helps teach a child some responsibility and compassion, but it also makes your life just a bit easier. For older teens, you might think of upping your game, for an even bigger payoff: have your child take responsibility for managing the pet’s finances, as well.Ready-to-go-out

Wait? What’s that? Your pet doesn’t have finances to manage? I’m here to tell you that Fido actually does – and it’s probably a pretty sizeable budget. Add it up: food, toys, leashes and collars, and grooming can easily add up to $1000 per year. Add in vet checkups and medicines and you could probably double that. I see this as a perfect opportunity to teach responsible teens how to manage money.

Give a Dog an Allowance?

Here’s how you do it: Put $50 into an envelope each month – this is Fido’s allowance. Let your responsible teen know that, from now on, she’s responsible for managing Fido’s allowance. She’ll use these funds to buy:

  • Dog food
  • Dog treats
  • Grooming supplies
  • Leashes, collars
  • Toys and fun stuff

There’s some big responsibility here. Your child now is not only going to be keeping the food and water dishes full, but monitoring the supplies as well. When more dog food is needed, or when the treats are running low, she’ll be telling you it’s time to go shopping for a refill – and then she’ll pick out the right food, treats, and so on. She’ll pay for all of this out of Fido’s budget envelope. After a few months, the “rhythm” will become clear – how much food to buy, and how often, and when there is money left over to buy treats and toys.

Money Lessons for Older Teens

For an advanced teen you could include some of the more expensive items as well: regular professional grooming, and vet visits and medicines. These could easily add up to another $100 per month for some breeds.

Remember that your objective is to teach kids about money, without it costing you anything, and making your life easier. This exercise shouldn’t mean that you’re spending any more money on Fido than you did before – you’re just letting the kids manage some or all of it. They learn some important financial lessons along the way, and you take a couple of items off your “I have to worry about this” list.

There’s another awesome outcome, as well. Most kids don’t realize how expensive a family pet can be. If your older teen spends a couple of years taking care of Fido and managing Fido’s budget, she’ll learn first-hand not the amount of time, responsibility, and money needed to take care of a family pet. It’s an important lesson to learn – and sooner is better than later.

How much responsibility do you give your teens in taking care of the family pets?  We’d love to hear your stories and questions.

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  • cheryl

    I think that if it gets too expensive raising a puppy, then you should just give it back to the gifter.
    Worked for me.

  • Yes, that’s true Cheryl – but maybe you’re missing the real point.

    Remember though, when you re-gift a dog, you have to change his name. It’s a rule.