From the time they drop that first penny in their piggy banks, your children are getting an education about money. Help them become financially savvy tweens with these tips from Barbara Nusbaum and business consultant and financial educator Kim van Doorn, who conduct money workshops for tweens, teens and parents.
“Talk to your kids about finances in a calm and educational way,” advises Nusbaum. “Don't be scared or reluctant to talk to them about money. If you don't, they will get messages from your silence—i.e., it's too much, too scary to handle or unimportant; and don’t overwhelm kids with too much talk about money problems, otherwise they’ll feel that money is all about anxiety." Van Doorn adds, “We want tweens to become problem solvers. Even if budgets are tight, you can say things like, ‘We are not spending on that’ or ‘We're choosing not to spend money on clothes right now,’ rather than ‘We don't have enough.’"
Be a Money Coach
Van Doorn suggests that parents act as their child's coach and money interpreter every day. "Our kids are bombarded with more than 3,000 ads each day—so when you aren’t talking to them about what they should buy and how to spend their money, advertisers and marketers are."
Needs vs. Wants
"Discuss the differences between needs and wants," advises van Doorn. "Explain to them that 'needs' are things we need to survive and 'wants' are all the other things." Tweens need to understand this basic concept so they can make smart choices when it comes to spending their money.
Give Them an Allowance
"Give your kids an allowance, and don’t tie it to chores," says van Doorn. "This should be money that you’d routinely spend on them." She encourages parents to empower their children by teaching them how to manage money. "Sit down with them, and be clear about what they are responsible for buying. For example, lunch, gifts, movies, snacks and anything extra," she says.
"Explain basic budgeting and show them how to make sure they don’t spend more than they have saved. Work together to develop a budget that’s very simple," suggests van Doorn. "Incorporate their allowance, or any other sources of money (birthdays, gifts, etc.)." Have them keep a money diary showing what they spend their money on each week.
"Teach them that spending is about values," says Nusbaum. "Encourage them to be mindful of what they want to buy, but to plan for now, later and much later. Feel free to bring your own experiences into play as an example of what to do and what not to do."
Open a Savings Account
"Take them to the bank and help them open a savings account," suggests van Doorn. "Explain the concept of 'earning' interest so they can watch their money grow. Make a point to review their statements with them each month."
Fun Ways to Earn Money
"Discuss and encourage fun ways to earn money. Ideas such as dog walking, jewelry making and babysitting are great ways for them to boost their savings accounts and give them a sense of financial independence," says van Doorn.
Let Them Make Decisions
"Let your tweens make their own financial decisions," advises Nusbaum. "If they make a mistake, don’t bail them out—tempting as that may be. Let them learn now so that they don’t make bigger mistakes later."
Nusbaum and van Doorn suggest that you discuss the importance of sharing with your tween. They say to have your tween identify a cause that she is passionate about, and discuss giving her money and time. Help them become lifelong givers.
Think about your own money issues, too, because like it or not, they influence your parenting. What are three things you’ve learned about money from your parents? Are these things you want to teach your tweens, or do you want to change this behavior?
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