Using Everyday Opportunities to Teach Your Kids Money Smarts

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Parents: Like it or not, you are instrumental in helping your children develop healthy financial habits.

It’s not an easy job, especially as kids are increasingly influenced by advertising and their peers. But life presents many opportunities to provide guidance, if you are looking for them.

Research commissioned by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau revealed that “during elementary and middle school, children … start to become aware of different brands and make judgments about people based on the particular things they consume, suggesting that the early elementary grades may be a developmentally appropriate time to teach children to resist consumer culture.”

So, the money lessons need to start early.

The good news is that you can teach your children valuable personal finance lessons even when you’re doing something as simple as shopping for shoes, writes Laura Schlachtmeyer of the CFPB.

The father of a 9-year-old girl shared this story with Schlachtmeyer:

“Last year when we were shopping, Jen was adamant about getting a specific brand of shoes. I didn’t want to pay $100 for a pair of shoes that would be too small in a few months, so I asked her some questions. It turns out she just wanted a pair of high tops ($25) that her friends had, not specifically brand-name shoes. There’s that dynamic where they’re influenced by advertising or peers.”

Because the father spent a few moments questioning his daughter about what she wanted instead of going out and buying the expensive shoes, he was able to teach her about value and how to avoid impulsive buys. Schlachtmeyer writes:

By encouraging preteens to ask themselves what they really want, or showing them how to do research to find facts, parents can help preteens create an internal yardstick to help them make their own decisions as they grow into adulthood. Being able to make decisions that make the most sense for them as individuals — and not just buying the trendiest thing even if it’s just about shoes — is a skill that will serve them well throughout their financial lives.

Check out “What Kids Should Know About Money at Every Age and Stage” and “6 Lessons That Turn Kids Into Money-Savvy Adults for more tips on how to talk money with your kids.

Do you have any tips on teaching money matters to young children? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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