Teaching Kids about Money

Today, Mr Credit Card from www.askmrcreditcard.com is going to contribute with an article about things we can teach our kids about life and money. He asks that you check his best credit card offers page if you are looking for a new card

I honestly think teaching kids about money this is the most overlooked thing that most parents do not teach. Instead, kids learn from our behavior and how we treat money. But I really think the subject of how to manage money must be taught.

I have three kids and teaching them stuff is sure tough. But as a parent, I would like to instill good habits (including money habits). Here are some of the things I think we can do to teach them about various aspects of life that will affect their outlook about hard work and money.

Reward Hard Work hard and Not Just Results – Some kids are talented at certain things like math or baseball. Very often (in their early ages), they excel in school or sports without much effort because of talent. But very often, because of the talent, they do not develop the habit of working hard (because they do not have to). But as they grow older, they are going to face obstacles. If they do not learn the value of hard work and overcoming difficulties, they will hit the brick wall often. Teaching them the value of hard work (even if they are talented) is so important.

What has this got to do with money?  Well, I think delayed gratification is one of the hardest thing to teach, so we try to praise our kids when they achieved something due to hard work. We tell them that they accomplished it because they worked at it and we explain that to be able to afford expensive things, they have to study hard, work hard and earn their own money!

Going to Shop Does Not Mean You Have to Shop! – There are various ways to go about doing it. One way is simply to explain concepts as they come along. For example, initially, my kids always wanted to buy stuff when they go to Toys R Us or anywhere else. To put a stop to this nonsense, we had to explain that just because we went to a shop does not mean we have to buy anything. We could be just looking, doing some research or simply buying a gift for someone else.

Ask Them What Happened To Stuff They Bought A While Ago – Another thing that we like to bring up to our kids when they want to buy something on impulse is to remind them of something they bought in the past and whether they are now still excited over it and playing with it. Chances are that they will say no! We found that this was a very effective way to make them realize that they should think twice before buying anything.

Teach Kids to Compare Price – Here is another technique we use: When we go grocery shopping, Mrs Credit Card asks the kids to compare prices of the cheapest cereals. We explain to them that even though they love a particular one, there are times when it is not the best time to buy it. They should only buy it if it is on sale. We also ask them to compare the price relative to the weight of the product to see which gives greater value for money. After a while, they catch on and only buy cereal that is on sale!

Make Them Work – I see lots of kids organizing lemonade stands outside their houses during summer. It could be to draw crowds for a garage sale or to raise money for a fundraiser. I think this is such a great thing as they can learn so many things just from selling lemonade. They can learn the the concept of selling things for a profit.

Another common task kids or teens take is to work to earn some money. It could be as simple as baby sitting, walking your neighbors dog or working at the ice-cream shop. Making them realize that they need to earn before they can spend is a good lesson.

Slowly Give Them More Responsibilities – As kids grow older, I believe in giving them more responsibility. It could be making the oldest kid look after their younger siblings. Or giving them tasks like clearing the trash, doing the dishes, etc. I know of some parents who give their teens prepaid credit cards to start teaching them about using “credit” (though it is not technically credit). Maybe that is a bad idea as you want them to know to manage a student credit card when they are old enough to get one.

Selling Things For Fund Raisers – One of the things that I admire about the Boys Scouts is that they are always doing fundraisers for their scouting trips and events (no money, no outings). It teaches them “cold calling” or more likely, approaching Dad and Mom’s friends to sell things like coffee beans and Christmas wreaths!

Teach Them Not To Waste Stuff – Another thing I like to emphasize to kids is not to waste stuff. Whether it is the water when they brush their teeth or making sure they do not waste food, we are pretty particular about this. I think this is a good mindset to instill in our kids.

Performance Matters More Than How Good Your Look – I find that kids like to buy fancy stuff and beyond a certain age, they are conscious about brands. I’ve mentioned this before, but when my kids first played baseball and soccer, they keep bugging me to get them the fancy gear. I had to keep telling my kids that how you perform matters more than your gear. After a couple of years of playing, I think they have finally come to realize this and no longer bug me about things.

It’s a Never-Ending Process – Teaching your kids about money and other things that are important is a never-ending process. But you have to do it when they are young because once they grow older, they tend not to listen to their parents anymore and are more likely to be influenced by peers.

Update:  This post has been included in the Carnival of Debt Reduction.

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