Six tips for kids and money

When I was growing up, we didn’t talk about money. I learned about it in school – I had a great teacher in the fifth grade, Ms. Foster, who was the banker and “employer” for our class. But my parents didn’t do family budgets or talk about how much money they made. It was all a little secretive.

I’m not a money expert, but here are some easy ideas to help teach your children about managing money. As soon as children can count, you can start teaching them about working hard and spending wisely.

For younger children:

* Start not one, but three money jars. Loose change, allowances, and gifts can be set aside in three ways: to spend, to save, and to share.

* Create birthday and holiday “wish lists” on the refrigerator or a white board. Kids can cut out pictures of or write down the top three toys they want, and change the list (or the order) as the weeks go by. If the toys are still on the wish list, week after week, then it’s something they really want.

* Open a family bank and let kids design their own money. They can earn money by doing homework and chores, and spend it on small treats or special time with parents.

For older teens:

* Let them help with the family budget. Show them how much you spend on rent/mortgage, utilities, gasoline, food, clothes, entertainment, and other expenses. It will help them put their spending into perspective, and may help you re-examine your own spending.

* When teens get their first job, remind them to “pay yourself first” – by putting money into a savings account before they start spending it. Automatic deposits are a great way to do this without having to think about it, and is the start of a great habit.

* Open a joint credit card with your teen. You can talk about spending habits, budgets, and interest rates. It will also help build your teen’s credit history.

What are your tips for teaching kids about money? What do you wish your parents had taught you?

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