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Kids & Money

How to Talk to Your Kids About Money

How soon is too soon to talk to your kids or grandkids about money?

If they are old enough to ask for a toy or a bike, the are old enough to start learning financial lessons that will last a lifetime.

The best financial lessons are part of everyday experience. Look for opportunities to talk about money, read books aloud and play games that center around spending money wisely. Be open and honest when you discuss your financial experiences -- good or bad.

Here are some examples of teachable moments to help you get started:

At the Bank

  • When you go to the bank, bring your children with you and show them how transactions work.
  • Explain how a checking and savings account works.

On Payday

  • Discuss how your pay is budgeted to pay for housing, food and clothing.
  • Discuss how a portion is saved for future expenses such as college tuition and/or retirement.

At the Grocery Store

  • Give clear examples of 'needs' and 'wants' using different kinds of foods.
  • For example, milk (for strong bones) is a need; whereas soft drinks are a want.
  • Explain the benefits of comparison shopping, coupons, and store brands.

Chores & Allowances

  • Assign chores and give them monetary value.
  • Discuss ways to budget and divide allowances.
  • Encourage children to set a financial goal, such as saving for a bike or video game, and figure out how to achieve it.

Paying Bills

  • Explain the many ways that bills can be paid: over the phone, by check, or through online banking.
  • Discuss how each method of bill pay takes money out of your account.
  • Be sure to cover late penalties for paying late, emphasizing the importance of paying on time.

Using Credit Cards

  • Explain that credit cards are a loan and need to be repaid.
  • Share how each month a credit card statement comes either by mail or electronically with a bill.
  • Discuss how interest is charged in association with credit cards.

Browsing the Internet

  • When online, explain to your childern how valuable their personal information and privacy is to you, to them and to online predators.
  • Discuss the risks and benefits of sharing certain information.
  • Discuss the need for antivirus software protection and how viruses, spyware, or malware can infect and compromise your computer, tablet or smart phone.
  • As a family, make a list of rules for keeping personal information safe online.

Planning a Vacation

  • Whether you are planning an outing to a local amusement park or a once-in-a-lifetime trip, emphasize the value of saving as a family.
  • Set a family savings goal that involves your children. Figure out the cost and discuss ways everyone can help to reach the goal.