Instilling good financial habits into children is a great gift

I was thinking of how the nation is already getting into the spirit of the holiday season and I began to ponder what sort of gifts I would like to distribute to my family and friends this year.

I was thinking of how the nation is already getting into the spirit of the holiday season and I began to ponder what sort of gifts I would like to distribute to my family and friends this year.

Then, as is so often the case, I indulged in a fascinating journey, happily continuing along many paths of fantasy, all associated with enjoying the sort of generosity only made possible while permitted to use Bill Gates' credit card for a day or two.

After all, when we arrive at the end of an exceptionally busy year like 2007, I believe we are entitled to indulge in this sort of pleasure.

Then, to bring back a sense of equilibrium, I began to think of the sort of gifts one can give when little or no money is available.

I even surprised myself when I considered the huge importance of some of these. Come to think of it, they are priceless gifts and certainly far more valuable, and durable, than any could buy with Gates' card.

Holidays are primarily the gift that enables us to devote all our attention to our spouse and children. The appreciation of this got me thinking about our children and grandchildren.

I asked myself what sort of advice I would impart to those who want to give something valuable to their children, but not necessarily expensive.

The answers were interesting. It is clearly far easier to buy an expensive gift for someone than it is to give her something valuable that costs nothing. The expensive shelves are full, but the other shelf requires much soul-searching.

I thought long and hard about how one might tackle what is arguably the most important ingredient, financial responsibility. How does one instil this in children's minds in the materially-oriented and worldly society of today?

I could never cover the subject adequately enough. We all know what bad habits have done to people's financial status.

As parents and grandparents, how seriously do we take the responsibility of teaching our little folks good financial habits? Is it foremost in our minds that they need to be nurtured to appreciate the real value of money?

It should be: it is one of the greatest gifts we could ever leave them.

But how? Well, start very early with real-life experiences such as an allocation of weekly pocket money, along with enjoyable games to teach young children how to budget efficiently or to check their small change after a purchase.

You mighty even impose small "fines" when they lose something like a towel at school. There are many useful training aids we can use to grow excellent life-support roots, the sort that will cause our young people to develop into upright and responsible, successful citizens.

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