This economy has forced all of us to take a refresher course on how to handle money and the lessons have not been cheap or easy. If we did not learn the significance of money management At Home from our parents as children, we certainly gained an understanding and new appreciation for scarcity, delayed gratification and the importance of budgeting over the last several years. Some of us adopted a great new spending habit: Don’t! Others learned simple things like cooking and eating dinner At Home or brown-bagging lunch and enjoying it at our desk. But how many of us have actually transferred the knowledge of past costly experiences and what we know now to our children so that they might be able to endure or possibly escape hard times should they come again? The good news is it’s not too late, but you should probably get started now.
Kids absorb information at what seems like the speed of light. This techno-savvy generation knows how to Email, Face book, Text, Tweet, and Skype, yet they lack the attention span to read a book from cover to cover, so teaching them about money must be broached in a way that is both entertaining and they feel that it is beneficial to them. Even the little ones, experts say, are old enough to gain financial awareness about the same time they begin to ask for toys and candy; the earlier you teach them the more prepared they will be. You might also be surprised to know that it is not too late to teach the rewards and consequences of money management to high school and college students: New York Times Upfront published an article in 2004 that announced “People under age 25 make up the fastest-growing age group filing for bankruptcy. Easy credit, bigger student loans, and financial illiteracy are fueling the trend…” see New York Times Upfront, April 5, 2004, by Dirk Smillie. And I would surmise that 2004 numbers pale in comparison to the increase in 2014. But don’t let this discourage you from arming your children with a strategy and the needed weapons to fight this green Goliath.
It is important that we understand and teach those we love that money is a necessary tool and like the tools, in our At Home toolbox it must be cared for, used properly and maintained will make other things work properly. How you teach the tools or concepts of money management is up to you, but simple is always best. The following At Home Money Management.
Tips should get you started:
1. Decide if you will give an allowance and/or assign chores. Children need to understand that there is a correlation between work and money. Necessities like lunch money and school supplies etc. should not be included in the allowance.
2. Give them four envelopes to decorate: GIVE, SAVE, SPEND, INVEST and do what the envelopes suggest. You can do this with your own finances as well.
3. Every time your child gets money (whether earned or a gift) an even portion should go into each envelope.
4. At the end of the month allow your child to use the money according to the envelopes description and only “spend“ after he has done the research on the cost of the item. Help him to find a picture of the item and post it. This forces him to prioritize his desires and set achievable goals.
5. Don’t bail him out! Don’t give him the money if he falls short. Be kind and explain the deficit, but don’t pitch in to help.
6. Younger children can learn money management through play. Books and games provide teachable illustrations. (Try Dave Ramsey’s money management tools)
7. Take more mature children and open a bank account in their name, allow them to fill out deposit slips and interact with the bank staff. Read over the statements with them each month.
8. LEAD BY EXAMPLE! Much of what we learn (or don’t learn) At Home makes us who we are and who we will become; this theory clearly applies in the area of money management.