Teaching Your Child The ABC's of Money

10 Tips to Help Your Child Develop Good Money Skills

Aaaarrrrrgh!!*!!*!! Do you scream every time you hear your kids say in that whiney, all-too familiar tone, "I want it, I need it, all the other kids have it." Do you hate your own financial planning and wonder how you can possibly help your child understand that money doesn't grow on trees?

With advertisements bombarding kids day and night, for everything from must-have clothes to candy, parents often find it difficult to say "no," much less help their kids develop financial skills that will last a lifetime. So how can you teach your child the value of a buck? Teaching your child the ABC's of money can be fun and easy.

"It is also important," says Pam Patrick, Ph.D., a psychologist with Minneapolis-based Capella University, "to remember that if a child doesn't start learning good money habits at age three, he or she will never do it at thirty." Just like playing a sport, or learning a foreign language, if kids are not introduced to money management skills early they may never pick it up.

According to Randy Schuldt, a vice president with IHateFinancialPlanning.com, a new Web site geared to the 3 out of 4 Americans who hate financial planning, and father of two, children's attitudes about money are based on the things they learn at home.

"Teaching your kids how to manage money begins with you," says Schuldt. "Kids learn a lot by simply watching their parents. The best thing you can do is to get your own financial house in order." To assist parents, IHateFinancialPlanning.com offers the following tips you may want to consider when teaching your child how to develop good money skills.

Treat your own money with respect. Children's attitudes about money are based on the things they learn. You can't completely mold your child's perspective, but you can teach your child to respect money and the hard work it represents.

Start simple. Children have watchful eyes. Small changes in your money habits such as bending down to pick up a penny or counting your change instead of stuffing it in your wallet, teach your child that even small amounts are significant.

Play games. Games are a great way to spend quality time with a young child. IHateFinancialPlanning.com suggests some simple games that will entertain your child while building a basic understanding of money. For example, try playing shopkeeper. Have your child price items with stickers and use play money to buy the items.

Give an allowance. As soon as your child is old enough to count coins, it might be time to give him or her a small allowance. Provide a list of "little jobs," outside of what you normally expect your child to do, to earn a dime or quarter.

Set goals. According to Paul Richard, Director of Education for the National Center for Financial Education, "Setting goals is a fundamental concept to help young people learn the value of money and also how to save." It's never too early for your children to start setting goals for what they want. But set realistic goals that they can achieve. Start small, such as saving for a new toy. As a child gets older, look to bigger goals such as a new bike, travel, or college.

Go to the bank. Check with your bank to see what accounts are available for children and the required minimum balance. When your child has saved enough in his or her piggy bank, take them to the bank and open a savings account. Encourage your kids to make regular deposits, so they can see their money grow.

Gain work experience. While children 8 to12 are too young to get part time jobs, they can still gain some work experience and at the same time start to see the connection between work, serving a customer well, and earning money. Encourage your kids to earn money by selling lemonade, raking leaves, painting fences, or shoveling driveways.

Help out. Teach your child to donate a small part of the weekly allowance to charity. This is also the time to begin teaching your child about community service. A great family activity is donating time or funds to a worthy cause together.

Be up front. Explain in general terms that most of your income goes to supporting the family. Teens are ready to learn the details and costs of running a home, buying a car, and saving for an education. To drive the point home, you may want to ask teens to begin contributing to family expenses. For young kids, take them on a tour of your home and explain costs such as electricity, water, and heat.

Create a budget. Once your child has identified clear goals for his or her future, you can create a budget together. This will help your child determine which financial goals are most important and how to allocate his or her money.

Enjoy Money. You work hard for it, and it's a good thing to enjoy it by spending it on things that bring you pleasure. Dream together, such as buying a new home and how you'll work as a family to achieve those dreams.

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