My own twenty-year-old daughter recently let me know what MOM meant to her.

I thought I was in for some profound and sincere words of a maturing young adult (considering it was around Mother’s Day), but rather, she text me (because this is how this generation of adolescents/young adults communicate), and let me know that MOM meant Made of Money.

Wow! What a blow to the ego, but it shined the light on the gaps in educating our young people.

Many of us learned about handling money through a crash course of overextended credit and the mismanagement of our checkbooks and savings accounts.  Plain and simple.  So, we owe it to our kids, the next generation, to understand and respect the power and responsibilities that come with money.

A good way is to teach them the concept of work pay, which is a different concept than an allowance.  Teaching children that when they work, they’re able to earn money to obtain some of the things they want in life is a good thing. This “give me now, give me more” generation seems to have missed the connection between the application of hard work, and the result of hard work is obtaining the things they want in life.  It might be through baby-sitting, pet sitting, or mowing a lawn (if kids still do that!), or any other chore that you’ve negotiated with them for a set amount.  (Make sure they complete the task!)

Teaching children to save will help us as adults remember that we have to relearn how to save. I suggest that you start off small. Initially it is not about how much you saved, it’s more about that you saved. Work with your kids to get into the habit of putting just $5 or $10 every week into a savings account. Many accounts are set up that you can do this automatically. Adults can open up a youth savings account at the bank, or use the age-old piggy bank. When they get their weekly work pay encourage them to put a portion of it in the piggy bank for savings. That way, when they see something that costs more than their weekly work pay they’ll have a back up fund. When you start young, it becomes a habit to save a portion of your earnings.

Donating a portion of your earnings for religious purposes is called tithing, and you’ll find many successful business people follow this same principle. Discuss a worthwhile cause that your child may like to contribute to.  Parents can set an empty jar next to the piggy bank for the kids to place their weekly donations. At the end of the month, the parents can drop off the donations or write a check for the kids to mail. Your child will also learn to to help out others in need.

I have a thirteen-year-old daughter who does not mind spending my money. We were at Old Navy some time ago and she quickly brought over a skirt marked $19.99 that she wanted to buy. I told her that I was not willing to spend that much money on the skirt, but she could buy it with her money that she left at home. With the same quick gesture she made by bringing the skirt over, she removed it and placed it back on the rack. “Don’t you want the skirt? I’ll pay for it and you can give me back the money at home.” Her response, “I’m not spending my money on that!”

Clearly you see children will make purchases with someone else’s money that they would not necessarily make with their own. When my children want something that is costly, I do make them wait some time before the purchase is made. If they really want something in January they would still really want it in February. What I have found is that by making them wait — even if it is for 2-3 weeks — they sometimes change their minds. This is okay; we all change our minds sometimes. I would rather you change your mind before I buy the $199 Kindle then after I make the purchase.

There are plenty of ways to raise money-savvy kids. I  hope you enjoyed these few pointers.

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Tenise Wall, LMSW

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