Teach Your Kids the Value of Money
Summer fun doesn't need to burn through your family's cash. Teach your kids the value of money by making them aware of the price of movie tickets, a day at the amusement park, or that must-have summer outfit. The following tips will get your kids thinking about smart spending -- and saving -- habits.
Create a Budget
For the Younger Child: Your child can create a piggybank by decorating a shoebox with pictures describing all the ways she'd love to spend her money this summer. Pictures cut out of magazines can symbolize that trip to the amusement park or that great new bathing suit she wants to buy. Talk with her about the cost of these outings and purchases and the money she'll have to save to afford them. She can then use her piggybank to start saving.
For the Older Child: Decide together with your child on a movie, ballgame, or amusement park outing. Then talk about how much money you should budget for the outing, including the money you will need for your own ticket and for lunch/dinner if the event will take place during a mealtime.
Before taking the outing, tell your child that it's his choice either to go on the outing, or to spend the same amount of money on something he wants (that cool T-shirt, baseball cap, or CD-ROM).
Give your child an extra incentive to save money, either in her shoebox piggybank (younger child) or a real bank account (older child), by offering to match her savings in some proportion. Adding 25 percent, 50 percent or even 100 percent to her savings will make her decision to save an attractive alternative to spending the money -- whether from allowance or earnings -- on those tempting impulse purchases.
Where the Money Goes
This summer, give your child a taste of what it takes to run a household. Acompany your younger child to the store and allow her to pick out and pay for the buns, hot dogs, and burgers for the evening's barbecue. Choose purchases that are approximately the value of a treat she may want to buy to give her an an idea of the comparative values. On your return home, ask her for the receipt and the change, so that you have an "accounting" of the purchases.
If your child is old enough to handle larger purchases, let her make an independent trip to the supermarket to cover several days' groceries. The experience of being trusted with money and accountable for its expenditure is very valuable. Just be sure to make the amounts involved appropriate for your child's level of maturity.
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