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My Parent, My Mentor

Money, Money, Money

Teaching Kids the Value of a Dollar

November 01, 2009
My daughter is obsessed with the ABBA song, Money, Money, Money. Yes, it's true, I let her watch Mama Mia. In the movie, the mother runs a somewhat dilapidated hotel. Okay, this is a Hollywood musical, so more like super fake looking dilapidation on a backdrop of the sparkling Aegean Sea. Never the less, it got me thinking about money and kids. We talk about mentoring our kids all the time, but how often do we teach them about money?

I got so curious, I decided to interview banking specialist, Julie Barcus, of Community First Credit Union. She told me her credit union as well as other banking facilities around the nation, are starting community based financial education programs for children. This goes beyond the "passport savings account" that we all grew up with. Here are some of Julie's tips and some others I have come up with along the way.

Reinforce Smart Financial Habits

Uh-oh. You know what that means. Teach by example. One of the best ways we teach by example is by showing kids our process. Think aloud as you make your purchases and let them "see" the process.

Think Three

1. Money to spend -Everyone needs spending money. When your child has "their" money in their pocket, they will begin to have more respect for it than "Mommy, can I have this, that or the other" from the toy aisle.

2. Money to save- This is a smart financial habit. Saving shows children how they can "grow" money. Julie Barcus hands out quarter keepers at events. They hold $5 worth of quarters, but they are a powerful tool for teaching kids how money can grow. You can probably get one at your bank.

3. Money to give-Altruism and charity is a powerful value you can teach your child. Not only are you teaching your child to give to others, you are teaching your child they have the power to help others. Talk about confidence building!

Weigh in Your Options

Julie has this neat worksheet she gives out at her talks. She gives kids a pretend budget, pretend money and options on how to "spend" their money. Options for movies include, "borrow from the library for free," "rent a movie" and "go to the movies." Kids can see, when they choose cheaper options, they can do more. Very interesting. Go to my website and ask for a copy of "kid's budget" if you would like the sample.

A Sea of Money

Money is like the ocean. We can love it, have a great relationship with it, but it's pretty important that we develop a respect for it. Respect means understanding money, knowing how to work with it and for it and developing good ways to spend it, too. Teaching our kids that money needs to be earned and respected is like teaching our kids how to swim in the ocean. In rough waters or calm, they will know what to do. Try any of these tools to get your child on the way to having a healthy relationship with money.

Maria Murphy is a mom, psychotherapist and writer. You can learn more about her and get some of her free downloads at www.simplyputtogether.com.

Maria Murphy is a speaker, consultant and writer. Her book and blog column can be found at www.simplyputtogether.com. Maria Murphy writes a monthly mentoring column for Tutor/Mentor Connection of Chicago, http/www.tutormentorconnection.org. Her column is distributed throughout mentoring agencies of N/E Florida through Kessler Mentoring Connection at http/www.mentoringconnection.org. She is also a columnist for My Nassau Sun, a subsidiary of the Jacksonville Times Union.
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IRT: the giver
Broadway: Annie