The following guest post is by John M. Box, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Education, Junior Achievement (JA) Worldwide. Information about JA programs follows the article.
If you’re a parent and you’ve stood in line with your kids at the check-out, you know the tiring push and pull you do. Those last minute items your children are desperate for – snacks, toys, candy, drinks. An attempt at refusal almost inevitably ends in a tantrum of sorts. Parents struggle with the wish to give their children all that they need and the desire to teach them about financial responsibility and the value of money. Now, more than ever, we all need to teach our children some important lessons that will serve them well for their future. As we know, this type of education starts at home and is hopefully reinforced with other influencers and educators.
As a way to help them develop a better understanding of money, try the following activities with your children.
- Keep track of the value of the goods and services that you provide your children such as housing, food, clothing, and entertainment. Share the total dollar amount with your children at the end of the month. Hold a discussion with your children to reinforce this concept and to gauge the degree to which the concept has been understood.
- The next time you go to the grocery store, provide your children with a list of the items you plan to purchase along with a dollar amount that you plan to spend. Have them make the selection of products from all of the different brands that are available. As they make their choices, explain comparison shopping. Can they select all of the items on the list and still stay at or below the amount they have to spend? Ask your children what they have discovered as a result of this experience.
- Have your children make a list of all of the things they would like to have, such as clothing, books, video games, toys, music CDs, etc. Add up the total value of these items. Now, ask your children to identify different ways they could obtain the money necessary to purchase these items. How would they prioritize their purchases? Use this activity to provide a perspective on the value of different items and the amount of time it might take to earn the money to purchase them.
You can then use these activities to begin a discussion about working for an allowance or earning money through a part-time job to save for something special. No matter what age, there’s always a lesson to be taught about money to your children. The earlier you start, the sooner they can begin to make wise financial decisions for themselves.
John Box is Senior Vice President of Education at JA Worldwide. Junior Achievement (JA) is the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating young people about business, economics, and free enterprise. JA programs are taught by volunteers in-class and after-school at locations throughout the United States and in 123 countries. To learn more about JA and its programs, or to locate the JA Area Office nearest you, logon to the JA Worldwide website at www.ja.org.