It’s a Habit to Teach Kids Money Early

Great article from Sam X, the “It’s a Habit” guy, author and speaker on teaching kids money.

If advertisers can successfully target children from birth with spending messages, then parents can and should do the same with saving messages.

I know one of the great regrets of many adults is that they weren’t taught about saving as children. Establishing good habits at an early age is essential to raising money smart children.

So how do parents help young children get in the habit of saving? Here are some suggestions:

1. Improve your own understanding of personal finance and set a good example to follow. Believe it or not, many adults don’t understand the basics of personal finance. Nothing can be more harmful and consequential for children than a role model who sets a bad example for them to follow or provides them with information that isn’t correct. Pick up a book on personal finance and get your family’s finances in order. There are several excellent books on the market. Find one that speaks to you. A few of my favorites are: The Way to Wealth, Benjamin Franklin; The Richest Man in Babylon, George S. Clason; Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki; The Millionaire Next Door; Dr. Thomas Stanley; The Money Diet, Ginger Applegarth; The Latino Journey to Financial Greatness, Louis Barajas; Kids and Money, Jayne A. Pearl; Dollars and Sense for Kids, Janet Bodnar; and Yes You Can! Raise Financially Aware Kids, Jack Jonathan. You can also find columnists who write regularly online about kids and money. Check out Steve Rosen (www.kansascitystar.com); or Janet Bodnar (www.kiplinger.com). Humberto Cruz writes an excellent column on saving. Remember, whether verbalized or not, we are always sending children cues about our money values.

2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Talk to your kids regularly about money. Involve kids in money-related activities (eg. counting, sorting, shopping, banking, bill paying).

3. Start early with books and music. Two activities that can begin from birth are reading to children and exposing them to music. Both activities help cultivate an interest in and an awareness of money. Naturally, I strongly recommend It’s a Habit, Sammy Rabbit!, Will Sammy Ride the World’s First Space Coaster? and Get in the Habit! the two books and music CD that my company has published (www.itsahabit.com). Additionally, I suggest: Lucky the Golden Goose by John Wren; Alexander, Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday by Judith Viorst; Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens; The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein; and The Trouble with Money by Jan Berenstain.

4. Coloring sheets and books. Visit your local credit union or bank and ask them if they have any coloring sheets and coloring books for kids.

5. Piggy banks and saving jars. Get your child a piggy bank or, better yet, create your own. If you are going to purchase one, my favorites are The Money Savvy Pig TM (www.msgen.com) and the Moonjar (www.moonjar.com).

6. Board games and cash registers. Monopoly (Junior), Moneywise Kids, Payday, the Allowance Game are good choices. Kids love cash registers and ATM machines. You’ll find several excellent choices at www.kidsmoney.org.

7. Wealth/goal journal and affirmations. Encourage children to keep a journal, including pictures, of goals that are meaningful to them. Create short, fun, repeatable slogans for your kids such as: “saving makes me strong;” “from every dollar, save a dime;” “change adds up;” “money likes to grow and grow;” and “earn, save, invest, share and spend.” Post them around the house!

8. Clip coupons.

9. Lists and shopping. Lists are great planning, thinking and organizing tools, and shopping is a great way to introduce kids to budgeting. Allow kids to comparison shop for items. Point out the difference in pricing between generic and name brands. Author Jayne Pearl (www.kidsandmoney.com) suggests playing the “Meat and Gravy” game. Point to items and ask kids if the items are “Meat” or “Gravy.” “Meat” represents items the family “needs.” “Gravy” represents items the family “wants.” Maureen Dolan Rosen’s KidsCash is an excellent tool to help middle school kids with budgeting (www.kidscashmanagement.com).

10. Recycle.

11. Allowance. There’s no substitute for experience. Give kids an opportunity to manage their own money and make their own mistakes on a limited basis under supportive but not overly restrictive conditions. Be consistent. Check out Allowance Magic, by David McCurrach (www.allowancemagic.com).

12. Start an account/Purchase shares of stock or a mutual fund.

13. Join or form a discussion group. It’s important to find people who share and support your values. Everyday Wealth (www.wealthlink.com) is a good group to start with.

14. Turn Off the TV!

15. Set saving goals.

In summary, the key components to raising money-smart kids are: starting early; setting a good example children can follow; communicating regularly with them; involving kids in money-related activities; and getting kids in the habit of saving early, not late!
Do you have any suggestions on great ways to teach kids to save?
Please send them to us!
E-mail: sammy@itsahabit.com
Tel: 323.223.1522
Reg. Mail: The It’s a Habit! Company, Inc., 2238 Harwood St. Los Angeles, CA 90031

Sam X Renick is the author of two children financial books: “It’s a Habit, Sammy Rabbit!” and “Will Sammy Ride the World’s First Space Coaster?;” he also produced the music CD titled “Get in the Habit!;” and is the founder of The It’s a Habit! Company, Inc., , a socially conscience corporation dedicated to providing parents and educators with wholesome, entertaining and educational tools that help them encourage children to develop good habits, especially saving money.

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