Raising Financially Savvy Kids

July 2017 | by katie backer

“Oooh, I want one! Can I have that?”

Have you ever walked through the grocery store, and heard a similar little voice or rather, in some cases, a demanding, little voice?

Today’s kids are growing up in a consumer-driven world, submerged with technological devices and the latest and greatest products on display for all to see. Children are inundated with ads, targeting their age group and interests, causing them to suddenly want the same cool shoes or toys they saw on TV. This can quickly escalate to children consistently wanting more. Without modeling appropriate spending to a child, kids can grow up with a skewed impression of money.

Debt is greatly on the rise in our society and many adults struggle with money management. Now, more than ever, children need to have the right tools to help them differentiate between wants and needs, and avoid accruing great debt in later life. We’ve gathered a few tips and resources from professionals to help get this conversation started with your family.

Many adults remember when they received their first paycheck. That first glimmer of financial independence was thrilling! Whether one’s earnings came from an allowance, birthday money, a babysitting job, or their first job, kids need to learn what to do with their money. Stockman Bank has an excellent site, full of educational tools for kids, which allow parents and their children to learn ways to manage their money and meet their goals. Many parents also use helpful resources such as Learning Ledgers to help their children get a jump-start on budgeting.

According to Stephanie Johnson, owner and creator of My Learning Ledger, My Learning Ledger is a kid-friendly, financial booklet that is re-defining the way children learn economic responsibility. The purpose of this Ledger is to assist parents in introducing the value and responsibility of a dollar to their children. Credit cards, PayPal, and smartphone apps make it difficult for children to learn the process of spending and earning money. My Learning Ledger brings back that process and helps parents broach this difficult topic with their kids.

Parents can work with their children to learn financial terminology, work up a mock budget, and participate in interactive activities that present opportunities for learning how to best manage one’s funds. They may also look beyond activities at home to a formalized class where their young adult can learn Financial Education.

Sue Roberts, a Family and Consumer Science teacher at Lockwood Middle School, teaches a class for 6th-8th grade students where they spend a unit of study on Financial Education. She shared about her program and why it is so effective.

With the 6th graders, I use a program called Vault…. Western Security Bank Sponsors the program. It covers: Responsible Money Choices, Income and Careers, Making Plans with Money, Credit and Borrowing, Insurance, and Saving and Investing. Western Security members come to the school every time we do the program and give the kids incentives for each section they complete. At the end, the students get a certificate to open a savings account and $15 will be added to their new account. I also teach them about influences on their buying habits and keeping track of a checking account.

For the 7th graders, we use another internet program called Banzai. This program is sponsored by Altana Federal Credit Union. In this program, the students learn about budgeting their money. When they have completed the program, Altana puts $15 in an account for them.

In the 8th grade we learn about using credit wisely. They also learn about basic economics: supply and demand, pricing, and how the Federal Trade Commission protects consumers.  Sue has had wonderful feedback from many parents, saying they wished they had had a class like that back when they were in school. Don’t we all? Whether parents are laying the groundwork at home by teaching their children about wants versus needs, or enrolling their kids in a professional class, there are huge strides children can make by learning the true value of money and its place in their life.

Here are some resources that might help kids develop these skills in a fun, refreshing, and completely manageable way!

Originally printed in the pages of Simply Family Magazine’s July 2017 issue.
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