It’s that time of year again: back to school. While I know there are legions of amazing teachers waiting to educate your kids, I need you to step up and do some important teaching that most schools drop the ball on: personal finance.
Please don’t shrug that it’s not all that important. Or that you have time to explain things when they are leaving for college. That is way too late. How your kids relate to money is something that needs to be learned through experience. You can’t cram experience into one serious talk two weeks before they move out.
Here’s how to teach important money lessons along the way:
Give Each Child a Back-to-School Budget. Once they are 10 or so, start introducing the notion of cash flow management by telling each child how much money they have for clothes and how much for supplies. Then have them build a shopping list (or online wish list). Chances are they aren’t going to stay on budget for the first go-round. That’s where you step in and with encouragement and a sense of fun—yes, I said fun-work together to figuring out tradeoffs they will need to make to meet their budget.
I can’t stress enough how important your attitude is here. You want them to enjoy this challenge, not feel punished.