Talking To Your Kids About Money

Make saving and investing for kids fun, not work! Here's how to help them set short- and long-term goals to become financially self-sufficient.

financial summits. Whether you decide to do this weekly or monthly, make sure that you keep to a schedule, such as after dinner the first Sunday of the month. Mark the date on a calendar where everyone in the family can see it. At the summit, go over your spending with your kids, and take a look at what they’ve written down on their accounting sheets as well. Explain why you are spending money the way you are. Make family finances a true family-wide occupation. Allow your kids to offer suggestions.

Most important, let them know how you are doing in terms of saving. For most families, sharing this information will constitute an absolute revolution. Most parents, rich or poor, never tell their kids a thing about money, let alone the money they save for rainy days. Explain short- and long-term savings [goals]. Maybe one savings plan is for short-term objectives, such as a trip to the zoo or for a college fund. Your kids will see the importance of long-term goals as each short-term goal is reached. After finally having the funds for a trip to the amusement park, they’ll see that the long-term goals will also be realized one day.

In any event, make your family financial summits fun and upbeat. Ensure that everyone takes part in the summits by setting an attendance rule. Schedule the meetings at a time when all the kids are home. If conflicting schedules make that impossible, meet with each child individually on a regular basis. Your kids need to know that nothing comes ahead of taking care of their finances–not sports, after-school jobs, or girlfriends or boyfriends. A solid financial future is something no one can afford to miss!

When you do have your family financial summits, make sure to eliminate all distractions. Turn off the TV and stereo, and turn on the answering machine so that a phone call won’t interrupt you. Sit around the table with your family, and work through the numbers. Financial literacy is one of the most important gifts you could possibly give your children. They may not understand exactly how valuable it is now, but when they [enter] the real world and have to be financially self-sufficient, they will have a huge advantage over their
peers.

SET GOALS
Teach your children to have financial goals. When kids know what they want, they are often willing to work hard to achieve it–as evidenced by Jennie’s patience in saving up stars for her prized tent. You might want to suggest to your elementary school-age children that they save a certain percentage of their allowance, cash gifts from relatives, or any other money they receive (say, when a savings bond comes due). Half to toys? Sure. As long as half gets put away for the future.

How can young children set financial goals? The same way adults do. Have your kids make lists of the toys, games, or articles of clothing they want. Ask them to find out what those items cost, either in stores

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