July 24, 2006
My parents never talked about money at home and like so many of us, I had to learn about it on my own, often making youthful mistakes along the way. Take this opportunity with the kids home from school this summer to instill in them your knowledge and values about money. It's a lesson that will last them a lifetime.
You don't need to make learning about money a boring form of home-based summer school. If you make it fun, do it together and integrate it in your daily life, your kids are bound to be more receptive.
Help them help you. Just because the kids are on summer break doesn't mean your regular errands disappear. Look for age-appropriate tasks they can do - for a price - in addition to any allowance-related responsibilities they may already have. If you've got yard work or grocery shopping to do, get your kids to help - it's a great way to spend more time together and provides an opportunity to teach them important money management skills.
Plant the savings bug early. Americans have a personal savings rate of minus 0.5 percent, the lowest since the Great Depression. If your kids don't learn the value of saving from you, possibly they never will. Teach them about "a rainy day" as early as possible by have them save a portion of their earnings. You can sweeten the deal by matching a portion of their savings yourself, much as your employer matches your 401(k) savings.
Teach kids what things really cost. When your parents said, "Money doesn't grow on trees," they weren't trying to interest you in horticulture. Try these ideas:
Don't forget the fun. Many family friendly websites have interactive financial education games you can play with your kids. Visa Inc.'s free personal finance site, Practical Money Skills for Life, www.practicalmoneyskills.com, includes interactive games like Financial Football and Ed's Bank that teach math and financial skills in a challenging, fun way. The site also features a parent's resource section that can arm you with facts and suggestions on how best to talk to your kids about money.
So help your kids - and yourself - have a more enjoyable summer by getting involved in their financial education.
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