4 places to provide money lessons for youngsters - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

4 places to provide money lessons for youngsters

iStockphoto.com / Lowell Sannes iStockphoto.com / Lowell Sannes

By Andrew Housser

Schools spend a lot of time teaching children reading, writing and arithmetic. Unfortunately, math lessons rarely include a course on how to manage finances. Yet kids who do not learn the value of budgeting and managing money often grow up to be adults who struggle with debt. You can help your children with this very important life lesson by capitalizing on everyday teachable moments.

At home: When your child earns an allowance or receives money as a gift, discuss why it is important to plan how she will use the cash. One good rule of thumb is to earmark 50 percent for savings, 40 percent for spending and 10 percent for charitable giving. If your child is saving for an item like a new bicycle, help him or her figure out how much money to save and approximately how long it will take to save that amount. Tweens or teens can open checking and savings accounts with adult help. Review the bank statements together each month. Discuss how the money is being spent and whether it is earning interest.

At the bank: Online banking and cash withdrawals from the ATM mean fewer trips to the bank. But it is important for young children to periodically visit a bank so they understand that this is where people put their money to keep it safe and to help it grow. Let your child know that banks also loan people money so they can make big purchases such as homes and cars. Explain that every time you use your debit card at a store to make a purchase or to withdraw money, the bank is notified to pay the vendor from your account. And every time your employer pays you for your services, the money goes into your bank account to pay bills, make purchases and save for things like your child’s college education.

At the store: Stores are full of teachable opportunities. Ask your child to help you choose between two similar items that are priced differently. Explain the importance of looking at the per-unit price. Enlist your child’s help in clipping coupons or watching for sales. Then review the store receipt with your child so he or she can see how much you saved by using the coupons or selecting marked-down items. Teens can take charge of planning, budgeting and shopping for a meal. And avoid just saying no when your child asks you to buy him or her something. Explain why it is not a wise use of money or why it is not in your family’s budget. Of course, using one’s own money can help a child really evaluate how much he or she wants something.  

At a restaurant: Dining out can be pricey. If a trip to a certain restaurant is not in your budget or plans, let your child pick up the tab using his or her own money. They may decide those fries and shake do not sound so appetizing after all. Ask older children to help tabulate the tip for wait staff. After grocery shopping, demonstrate how many hamburgers can be made from a pound of beef and compare that to the costs of a restaurant burger. Explain how much money your family can save each month by fixing meals at home.

In today’s world of electronic payments, it is no wonder that so many children think that little plastic cards come with unlimited buying power. It is your job as a parent to instill sensible money habits. Doing this job well will ensure your children grow up to be fiscally responsible adults – and wind up with some good lessons or even an inheritance to pass to their children.

Andrew Housser is a co-founder and CEO of Bills.com, a free one-stop online portal where consumers can educate themselves about personal finance issues and compare financial products and services. He also is co-CEO of Freedom Financial Network, LLC providing comprehensive consumer credit advocacy and debt relief services. Housser holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Stanford University and Bachelor of Arts degree from Dartmouth College.
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