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Turning Kids Into Savers

IF THERE’S ONE financial skill you should teach your children, it’s the ability to delay gratification. This isn’t just good for them. It’s also good for you. After all, if your kids grow up to be financially irresponsible adults, there is a fair chance you will ride to the rescue. Want to teach younger children to be smart about money? Try these five strategies:

  • Values are passed down through the generations in the stories that we tell. Talk about how you made ends meet when you first entered the workforce. Tell your kids how your parents or grandparents struggled financially.
  • Encourage your children to save part of their allowance for larger purchases. You might have your children save a few dollars every week for a month or two, and then arrange a special trip to the mall so they can buy the toy of their dreams.
  • Teaching your kids to delay gratification doesn’t have to involve money. When you tell your children they can’t have dessert until they eat their main course, or they can’t play until they finish their homework, you are also teaching an important lesson about the need for self-discipline.
  • Have your youngsters create a wish list of gifts they want for their birthday or the holidays, or items they want to save up for. Every month, go over the wish list with your children. Point out how much the list changes from month to month, so they start to see how quickly their desires pass.
  • Your children may grow up spending your money, but you want them to feel like it’s their own money that they’re spending. To that end, push them to make financial choices. For instance, if they go on the school field trip, give them $5 for the museum gift shop. But tell them that, if they don’t spend the money, they can keep it and spend it on something else. Similarly, when you go to restaurants, offer them a choice: They can order a soda—or they can drink tap water and have a dollar.

Next: Teaching Older Children

Previous: Value Averaging

Blog: Baby Steps

Related: Seven Lessons to Teach Your Children

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