It’s that time of year again folks when financial sanity goes out of the window and we all blow half our income on presents, most of which are useless. Yes, of course, the Christmas season is upon us, and our friends and neighbors are expecting gifts, while our kids are begging for them. For many dads, it can be a trying time, especially if you think the whole thing is a bit of a farce.
The good news, though, is that Christmas is an opportunity to teach your children a bit about the value of money. At no other time of the year is the value of money held in such contempt, and at no other time of the year is basic financial prudence thrown out of the window in favor of greasing the wheels of social civility. It’s an excellent case study for kids in what NOT to do when it comes to their own personal finances. Of course, there’s plenty of other stuff you can teach your kids too, besides avoided the excesses that so often accompany festive cheer. Let’s take a look.
Head to The Ice Cream Truck
Jamie Brown is the CEO of Bea is For Business. He’s a successful guy, and he wants to pass on his good financial habits to his kids, so that they can one day enjoy the same quality of life that he does. He says that the ice cream truck is a great tool to teach kids the value of money and how to spend it. Give your children some change, perhaps $1.50, and send them off to the ice cream truck on their own to make a purchase. Get your kids, Brown says, to compare the prices on the menu to the money in their pocket and let the vendor know that that is what they’re doing. Often, the vendor will be willing to undercut the menu price in order to get the kid what they want. Some kids will even negotiate down a price.
Eat Well And Always Learn
Brown also thinks it’s a good idea for kids to learn the difference between prices at the farm-gate and prices at the regular supermarket when food has been shipped internationally. Take your kids to a farmers market, he suggests, and show them the prices of food on offer there compared to the prices in local stores. Farm-gate prices will typically be lower, despite the enormous buying power of supermarkets, thanks to the fact that food prices don’t have to pay for the costs of international shipping. It’ll also give kids, he says, an opportunity to grab some healthy food, food that will help them be stronger and more productive in the future.
Talk About Real Estate – A Lot
Kids don’t tend to have much of a concept of the amount of money that it takes to buy the average house. For them, it’s just something that’s there and always has been – a part of the scenery. Brown suggests that dads take their kids to the window of an estate agent, or around the block, to teach them about how much homes cost, and why they are important for saving and investing. Saying that a house is worth $250,000 probably won’t mean much to a kid. But then explaining that the average person earns about $50,000 a year quickly lets them know that houses are expensive.
Teach Them About Business
Kids need to know that going into debt isn’t always a bad thing. Sites like personalmoneystore.com can also be an opportunity for people to hit the big time. It’s all about how they choose to spend their money. For instance, there’s a big difference between the person who goes into debt to pay for a holiday and the person who goes into debt to fund a business. The person paying for the vacation won’t ever get their money back once it’s been spent, but the person founding a company will get their money back from future customers, so long as the business is successful. Understanding the difference between good debt and bad debt is one of the most helpful things a dad can do.
Tour A Business
The sooner kids realize how adult life operates, the better. Often local businesses are more than willing to show children around what they do so that they can get a feel for how businesses operate. Seeing things like the back room, trucks being unloaded and people tapping away at computers is a great way to introduce them to the idea of making stuff, selling products and getting a job done. If you’ve got your own business, you could start off by showing your kids how it works.
Set Up A Bank Account
Establishing a bank account can be a very educational experience for children. It teaches them words like “withdrawal”, “deposit” and “balance.” Understanding what all this stuff means from an early age will put kids in good stead for the future. It’s also worth making the point, Brown says, that money doesn’t just come out of thin air: it has to be earned in the real world by real people doing hard work. Modern money might be immaterial, and held as a series of zeroes and ones in the memory of a computer, but getting that digital money still involves a lot of effort. The better your children understand the effort that goes into making money, they more they’ll appreciate what they’ve got.
Talk About Money Problems On Long Journeys
When you’re on a long road trip with the kids, don’t waste time listening to music. Use it to challenge your children and educate them about the value of money. You can come up with interesting problems like, if I had $50 to invest and the interest rate was 10 percent, how much money would I have after two years? Or if I earn $1,000 a month and can save $200 from that income, how long will it take me to save up for a $9000 car?
Get Them Doing Chores
Most kids have an allowance that they get to spend on the things that they want. But most kids don’t have to earn it. Why not, asks Brown? He says that chores are a great way to introduce children to the job market. Giving them a choice of different chores to do around the house with different rates of pay is an opportunity for them to select among the various options. They can choose hard tasks, with a higher rate of remuneration, or easier chores with a lower rate. They’ll soon find out that how hard they work is directly related to what they can buy with the money they get afterward. A structured allowance allows them to play at being financial adults before reaching adulthood, giving them some much-needed experience.
Hire Your Own Kids As Consultants
If you own your own business, or are facing a tricky financial situation at work, get your kids involved. Ask them how they’d solve a particular issue or problem and get them to draw a diagram or write a report about what they would do. Make sure you go back and forth, explaining to them why their ideas might not work. Teach them about things like costs and revenues, and how these relate to profits. If they suggest taking on more people, point out that that costs money, and that sales would have to go up to cover the extra cost.
Try out some of these activities this winter and watch your child become more financially literate. Sites like financewhizkids.com have more resources.