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Easy Conversation Starters About Money with Your Kids

Posted By John Box On 04/08/2009 @ 8:15 am In Family | 8 Comments

This guest post was written by John M. Box, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Education, Junior Achievement Worldwide.

Sometimes it seems like our children are programmed to turn a deaf ear when we begin to talk about doing chores, saving money or preparing college applications. Many parents struggle with how to broach these topics without nagging, boring or confusing kids, and as a result, the conversation may never happen. Here are a few conversation starters to get your kids talking about money:

  • I Want: There’s no better time to strike up a conversation about smart money management than when your children want something. Whether it’s the latest toy, designer jeans or a candy bar at the register, kids are often looking for instant gratification. Discuss the price of the item and how long it would take your kids to pay for it with their part-time job, allowance or gift money. If it’s a higher-priced item, are they willing to wait and save for it. If they’re not, why not? By drawing them away from instant gratification, you can help them evaluate what they really want and how spending habits now can shape their financial situation later in life.
  • Don’t Hide It: Next time you sit down to pay the bills, do it in the kitchen when your kids get home from school. Have a snack prepared for them and explain what items you have to pay for. They may not understand that water and electricity aren’t free, or that you DO have to pay for the items you buy with a credit card. Even a short conversation to begin with could lead to longer conversations down the road.
  • Share: Be open in your family communications about money. If you make personal finances a taboo topic, your children will too. By engaging in open and honest communication with your kids, talking about money will be less threatening. Don’t wait until you get upset to blow up over them spending too much at the mall or not putting birthday money into savings. Keep the dialogue open so there are never any questions about what you expect.

There are so many ways to talk to your kids about money; the important thing is to just do it. By making them comfortable discussing money now, you can save them a lot of heartache in the future.

Editor’s Note: A few years ago I volunteered at a Junior Achievement event. I can’t remember the name of the “game” we played but it involved a mock city with stores and banks and jobs, simulating real life. As volunteers, we were essentially chaperons for whatever “building” we were in and the students (all grade school level) were the employees.

We were there just to give guidance and make sure they didn’t get too crazy. I remember sitting in the little “radio station” that played music throughout the room and our little enterprising employees sold “shout-outs” to their friends. It was a great time and I thought it was incredible that there was an organization dedicated to teaching young people financial skills they could use in the real world.

About Junior Achievement® (JA)
Junior Achievement is the world’s largest organization dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. Through a dedicated volunteer network, Junior Achievement provides in-school and after-school programs for students which focus on three key content areas: work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. Today, 137 individual area operations reach more than four million students in the United States, with an additional five million students served by operations in 123 other countries worldwide. For more information, visit www.ja.org [3].

If you’re on Facebook, Junior Achievement Worldwide has a JA Worldwide Facebook page [4]. Become a fan and you can get access to all the latest news and learn ways to volunteer (it’s very rewarding), they are also on Twitter as @JAworldwide.

(Photo: pingu1963 [5])

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