Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Smart Way to Spoil Grandkids

Kudos to Janet Bodnar for this article in her "Money Smart Kids" column.

Holiday Cries for Help - Got Sanity?

Help! That seems to be the call this season. I am seeing so many articles about kids, money and the holidays that I honestly can't keep up. There is one thing that I've been talking about that I think is probably the most important consideration parents should have this holiday season - be aware of your own actions. Stacy Tisdale's new book, "The True Cost of Happiness," addresses this same issue - she says that if kids grow up in a credit card debt home, that's the kind of home they'll have. She even talked on the Today Show about this. True, true, true. I completely concur with Stacy's assessment. We all know kids do what we do, not what we say. So, this holiday season, be aware of the following:

- Make it a point to create and talk about a budget - even if you have very young kids, talk about it. They may not yet get, but you're setting the foundation...and you'll help yourselves curb "crazy spending in the process."

- Be very aware of the use of the words "need" and "want." Correct yourself and your children when you use these words incorrectly and/or interchangeability. Seriously, make it a point to pay strict attention to your words and actions regarding money for a day or two and you may be surprised at what you might discover about yourself - and your kids.

-Emphasize traditions. Don't have any traditions, create some. Every kids wants gifts during the holidays and I certainly don't want to advocate being a scrooge here, but emphasize your traditions - whatever they may be - because that's what kids will value in the long run. Granted, a Christmas without presents would not be fun at all, but neither would a Christmas without a decorated tree.

Make time for family and enjoy yourselves.


Monday, November 05, 2007

Starting An Allowance

At one of our recent super-fun live "Money Mammals" shows, a parent approached me about starting an allowance for her 5-year-old. I figured it was a good time to share the approach our family is taking as it might be helpful for others. We've just started allowance for our 4-and-a-half year old and I've begun by using David McCurrach's book, Kids' Allowances, as a guide. I like this book because it's simple, includes a survey of what parents of various age kids do r.e. allowance, cites various experts on youth financial literacy, and provides you with a structure to provide allowance for your children. The author is also experienced - he has honed his method on both his kids and grandkids. And he's not "preachy" or condescending, refreshing when you consider the approach of some financial self-help gurus today.

So what are we doing? We are using a three bank system (Share, Save, Spend Smart) and she's getting three dollars per week - two dollars and four quarters. Providing the money in different denominations provides us with a teaching opportunity each week (e.g. four quarters equals one dollar - and you can change up the coins each week). She is required to put two quarters into the "Share" jar (for donations) and two into the "Save" jar. At her age, we're making saving tangible by putting a picture of a savings goal on the bank so she knows that she's saving for something. She can do what she pleases with the other two dollars - put them in the "Spend Smart" jar or either of the other two (Save or Share). We are not tying our allowance to chores and we will revisit our approach at least every six months. At some point, we may consider some type of savings matching to encourage savings and I envision giving her complete control of her allowance (no mandates) in a few years.

I hope this is helpful and good luck to all parents out there. Remember, it's most important to just do something. You can't afford not to teach your kids about money.