Money doesn’t grow on trees!” Have you found yourself saying this age-old phrase to your kids when they ask for just five more dollars or they really need that new pair of shoes?
Well, the truth of the matter is that money doesn’t grow on trees, and it is your responsibility to teach your children the value of a dollar. Through instruction and example, you can easily teach your children to develop good money-management skills that will help them now and after they’ve left home. However, you first need to get a handle on your own attitudes about money, so you’ll be able to practice what you preach.
MetLife, in its pamphlet Helping Your Child Understand Money, offers this advice:
First, ask yourself two very important questions:
Of the things that money can buy, what is most important to me?
What financial goals do I have for myself and my family this year, in five years, and so on?
Write your answers down, and prioritize each item. Once you have figured that out, talk to your children. Teaching children about money can begin as early as age 3. The best time to teach is when your children express an interest. The next time your children ask you to buy candy or toys, start teaching! Show them how money works by allowing them to make their own purchases. You can give your children the required money for a candy bar and allow them to hand the cashier the money. After you leave the store, you can explain how money bought their much-desired candy.
Approach money lessons with “openness and honesty,” giving children clear and consistent messages about money. Once your children understand the basic function of money, you can explain its bigger purpose. Show your children how money provides for the whole family. At the grocery store, you can pick out two similar brands of a product (one name brand, the other generic), and let your children choose between them. If they choose the generic, let them make an additional purchase with the money saved. If they choose the name brand, explain how that choice leaves less spending money.
Remember: The sooner you begin teaching this important life lesson, the sooner you’ll reap the benefits!
Consumer Education Research Center
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