DISPELLING THE MONEY-TREE MYTH

HOW many times have you wondered whether your children think money does indeed grow on trees? It probably seems like every time you turn around your wallet is being attacked by the "gimme's".

HOW many times have you wondered whether your children think money does indeed grow on trees? It probably seems like every time you turn around your wallet is being attacked by the "gimme's".

If you honestly examine your spending habits (and those of your kids), you may realise that you have not given them any reason to believe that you don't have a money tree.

In truth, we all want things and kids are no different. How easy it is to whip out the credit card(s) and instantly gratify our desires. What message are we sending our kids?

What follows is a collection of ideas about how we can instil in our children a better understanding of money and how it works.

Establish a savings account and a plan

Every child should have his own savings account even if it is just a piggy bank. Whether your child receives an allowance or works a job, establishing a savings plan is a must.

Hold a bill-paying night

This is a great activity to show your children where your money goes.

First, assemble a list of your monthly expenses and their amounts.

Next, take the expense slips and give them to your children. Have them come to you and "collect their bill" one expense at a time.

Afterward, discuss ways you can cut your spending to help stretch the money for things that are really important.

Encourage them to work

Even young children can do extra chores around the house or yard to earn extra money. Teenagers should be encouraged to get a job. Working helps children understand that money comes at a cost, thus dispelling the money-tree notion.

Establish spending limits

Establish spending limits for items like clothes and shoes. Be willing to pay so much for something, but your child must make up the difference with his own funds if he goes over the allotted amount.

Take your child grocery shopping

If your child can run a calculator, she can help you grocery shop. Give her a fixed amount that you will spend on groceries and have her subtract each item from the total as you shop. Teach her to compare food labels and get the best product for the money. Ask for her input about how you can reduce your grocery bill.

There are many ways to teach your children the value of money and help them build valuable skills. If you don't teach them, who will?

So take the opportunity to call a cease-fire in the battle between your kids and your wallet and work out a compromise in which both sides win. - simplejoe.com

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