Between iPods, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and text messaging, getting your teen’s attention long enough to teach them about something as humdrum as money management is no easy task. While young people don’t mind spending money, learning how to manage and grow the dough usually sits somewhere next to taking out the trash and washing dishing for most kids.
Recently, I stumbled upon the Cash Cache, a low-tech planner with resources and strategies to teach young adults – ages 12 to 16 – the fundamentals of money. Billed as a “beginning personal finance organizer” it comes with four pouches to stash cash, each labeled with a its own purpose: save, invest, spend, and donate.
At a sale price of $19.99 (regular price 21.99) you will be paying a pretty penny for a binder that any parent or teen semiskilled in arts and crafts can make for under $10 with a quick trip to a Staples Business Supply Store or even a local dollar store.
Alas, it’s not the dreary grey binder that makes this item worthy of your time and dollars. What’re ingenious are the tips and worksheets that come along with the mini-trapper keeper. The folks at Money Savvy Generation — the minds behind the Cash Cache and Money Savvy Pig — break down a number of fundamental savings, investing and overall life principals to simple terms.
One of the worksheets in the accompanying booklet is a “Spending Wish List” which might add some clarity as to whether your little one actually needs that new gadget he’s been whining about for the past week. After your child lists every item he’d like to purchase, he must answer questions in the “Gotta Have It Gauge,” i.e.“Is this something I must buy now?” and “Am I sure that it will get used or worn frequently?” What a way to quell impulsive buying? (I know a few adults who could use that same tool.)
The booklet also breaks down subjects, such as banking, with a set of definitions and charts, including pictures detailing how to read a bank statement and write a check, which in today’s digital world may seem quiet foreign to many young people.
More importantly, this planner also teaches life lessons along with the money lessons. The booklet defines and short term and long term goals by first and helps young people create a plan on how to develop these goals and keep track of them.
“Dividing up your money with no plan about what you’re going to do with it seems pretty pointless, doesn’t it? That’s where setting goals comes in,” it notes.
Now to my favorite part: The booklet includes a special section on investing in stocks and bonds.
“Investing means you put your money in a place you hope will earn additional money over time. When people talk about investing they are often talking about investing in the stock market,” it reads. The language doesn’t get any plainer than that.
Yes, it sounds a little elementary, but oftentimes young people – heck, even adults — are intimidated by investing just from the jargon alone. It includes a quick how to guide on reading stock quotes, including an illustration and definitions.
One year with the Cash Cache, and you might have to start asking your little one for financial advice.
Renita Burns is the editorial assistant at BlackEnterprise.com