Doesn't Grow on Trees: Teaching Your Kids the Value of a Buck!
Banking on Our
Future: A Program for Teaching You and Your Kids about Money
LET'S GET MORE MONEY FROM THE CASH
by Marc Eisenson
In addition to giving children an allowance, there
are many other things parents can do to teach kids about how to handle
money. And with all the TV commercials children watch, it's more important
than ever to help them learn how to distinguish their needs from their
wants--how to make choices about money.
many adults themselves are confused about needs and wants, and set
a bad example. (Can you remember the last time you stood at a cash
register, money in hand, and asked yourself, Do I really need this?)
you don't have the knack for money management, take heart. You can
get better in time if you work on it. Remember, the example you set
on how to spend, save, and earn money will make a difference. Here
are some other things you can do.
- Explain the difference between wants and
your kids that food; shelter and clothing are on the short list
of human needs. In our society, electricity, transportation, and
phones also fall into the need category. Designer clothes and cereal
in the shape of cartoon characters qualify as wants.
- Let kids know that your first responsibility
is to provide for the family's needs. Once you have paid
for the basics, explain that the family can choose to spend the
remaining money for fun things, but that it would be wise to put
some money aside for future goals such as taking a vacation, buying
a house, or paying for college.
- Make it a point to watch TV with your children.
Pay attention to the commercials that they see. Help kids understand
that products are heavily hyped. What they see is not necessarily
what they get. It's important for kids to learn from their own mistakes,
but that's not a message you need to pound in.
- Pass along your own ideas of what's worth
without dictating how children should spend their allowance or money
they have earned. For example, let your kids know that you're happy
to buy them a perfectly fine pair of sneakers for $30. If they decide
to upgrade to a designer $100 pair, it will be with their own funds.
Make the point that they will have $70 less to spend on something
else they would enjoy.
- Talk to kids about how you make and spend
Even young children should know that you work for every penny, nickel,
dime, etc. and that cash from an ATM machine isn't magic money.
It's money you worked hard to earn. Ditto for checks and credit
- Try using an eventually list. Develop a wish list--a
record of what you most want to have or do. We called this our eventually
list, and it helped us as a family to prioritize. Sooner or later,
most everything on the list got covered or lost its appeal. Knowing
that something will happen eventually calms the need for instant
gratification. So next time your kids must have something, make
it easy for them to save for it, a little at a time. If they don't
lose interest in it, they will really value the prize once they
have saved long enough to make it theirs.
from Work & Family Life newsletter, edited by Susan Ginsberg)