Cents and Sensibility

Steve and Pamela Cromity teach their children about saving, spending, and giving

Even at age 10, Christina also understands the value of thrift. She keeps a cache of coupons for clothing stores and avoids paying full price, just like her father. “I think my children know that there is a time when they can get the things they want because they’ve saved, they’ve been frugal, and  they made an effort,” says Steve. “They’ve learned to make whatever dollars they have go further.”

The notion of giving to others also plays an important role in how the Cromitys raise their children. Since 1990, Steve and Pamela have helped to fund scholarships that enhance cultural diversity at their alma mater, Pennsylvania State University. The couple also thinks it’s important that their children see them give money in church every week.


Talk about money. Children learn money habits from their parents. Talk to them about the money decisions you make and why you make them. “My kids see how my wife and I are a team, we don’t just do things off-the-cuff,” says Steve. “We communicate with each other constantly about money.” The Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy (www.jumpstartcoalition.org) is a great place to go for resources that will help your children learn more about money management.

Teach your children how to budget. Spending can be a thrill, but being broke is downright depressing. Teach your children how to manage their income and cash outlays. “We want them to learn now so that later on when they get older and they have to do it on their own, it is not as difficult,” says Pamela. Show children how rewarding it is to stay within their financial boundaries and not to accrue debt. While grocery shopping, make lists and set a financial limit, says Pamela. Have the children help you try to stay below that limit. Make budgeting fun by purchasing a financial game. The board game Moneywise Kids (www.talicor.com; $20) teaches children how money works as well as how to make and manage a household budget.

Show children how to be charitable. Let your children accompany you as you do volunteer work, and show them financial statements confirming donations you have made. “It’s important that they see me giving whenever possible in whatever form it takes,” says Steve. Also put them in the practice of giving. Don’t allow your children to accumulate things or be wasteful, Steve advises. Teach them to donate to charity toys and clothes that they have outgrown.

This article originally appeared in the March 2010 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.

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