There are plenty of books and articles about how to best teach your kids and grandkids about money, and many of them lack a specific concept. In order for kids to pay attention and learn, they cannot simply be told the information. There has to be a need for them to understand what you’re teaching them.
Here’s an example. Did you know everything about mortgages and buying a home before you bought your first one? Probably not, because we tend to not learn things until we need the information. Kids are no different. So, how do you do this? Make the teachings relevant to the moment, and here are some suggestions.
The next time you go to the grocery store with children, involve them. Show them the shopping list, and explain that you want to get the best deal on everything you purchase. If you have coupons, put them in charge.
As you compare items, explain the price per unit/ounce on the price tag. Show them how to calculate which item is the best deal, and explain that having a coupon is no guarantee that that particular item will have the net lowest price. If you have a budget and they can work a calculator, even better.
The next big teachable moment is shopping for clothes. Before you go out, review what they already have, and note what they actually need. This moves shopping from an emotional decision (I want that because I like it), to a logical decision (I need this item and here’s the best one).
Your goal is to get to the point that your child can shop on their own with a list and a budget and buy appropriate items.
As kids grow into their teens involve them in planning. Something we implemented in the teen years was a weekly family meeting. Every Sunday night we would meet to review grades, talk about meal planning, chores, upcoming activities and the household budget. The older they got, the more they participated in planning.
A car purchase is a great opportunity to teach older teens about interest rates, credit scores, financing terms and insurance. In fact, you can visit www.creditscorecard.com, enter your information and show them your FICO score for free.
When they start talking about career options, make an appointment with a career counselor and talk about their career interests and find out what people in those careers earn. Explain taxes, and the net amount they would receive from these jobs.
Lots of teens believe they can do the job they want to do and have the lifestyle they want to have, which can be unrealistic. They then make huge financial decisions (student loans and auto debt) based on this belief, and end up in trouble. The more you can teach them and prepare them, the better chance they have of making sound decisions.
Sherri Goss is V.P. of Rosenberg Financial Group, Inc., with offices in Macon and Warner Robins. You can reach her by calling 922-8100, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.