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Raising Money-Savvy Kids

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Many people want to make sure they are providing for their children as much or more than their parents provided for them. While you don’t want to give to your children blindly, you would like to make sure you are raising your children to be conscious about money and financial matters.

Paying a regular allowance is a hotly contested topic. Should you pay a regular weekly amount or just pay your children for chores around the house? There is no reason you can’t do both. Providing a regular allowance can offer your child a sense of independence and understanding of money. However, you don’t have to give them too much and you can also pay them extra for certain chores, like mowing the lawn or extra cleaning around the house.

You don’t have to share every detail about your own personal finances (for example: I can’t believe my credit card bill is $3,000 this month!) but you also don’t want them to grow up completely ignorant about money. If you have a new job and want to watch expenses, this is something they ought to know. You can also share with them how much the grocery bill costs or how much the movie ticket costs but they don’t need to know how much the mortgage payment is every month.

A common used technique in parenting is giving children choices. This can be applied to money matters as well. A great example is a child’s birthday. You can offer them a big birthday party or a special gift (like a new bike) but not both. They don’t need to know the actual costs, but by becoming more involved in the process, they learn how to prioritize their financial decisions.

Teaching your children about the concept about saving is especially important. Once they start getting a regular allowance, you should encourage them to save a portion of it for special occasions. They may not do it, but where else are they going to learn about it? Once they get old enough (at least 8 years old), they can also learn the basics of investing with some fun games or children focused mutual funds. Junior Achievement offers some wonderful programs in elementary schools. At the same time, you can also introduce contributing to a charity. They can either give through their own money or you can give them a certain dollar amount and let them choose their own charity.

When they reach high school age, there are basics concepts of personal finances that should be taught. These include putting a budget together, balancing a checkbook, and the concept of time value of money (for example, interest growing in a savings account). These are all invaluable lessons they will apply for the rest of their lives!

(Copyright Down-to-Earth Finance LLC 2006)


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