Why is Age 18 Significant for Your Teen and You Financially?

When you plunked the bowl of cereal down in front of your kid this morning, did you do a double take at how big they’d gotten? All of a sudden nothing’s fitting, they’re getting those moody teenage attitudes, and next time you blink? It’s going to be another year older (if that!) and too much closer to being eighteen and a legal adult!

Where did the time go? How is it they are old enough to do all those adult things, like:

  • Sign contracts
  • Get a credit card
  • Apply for a loan

Before your little (or big!) gets to that point, it’s important to teach them everything they need to succeed in life. School education is sorely lacking when it comes to personal finances, so it’s up to you as a parent to teach your kid about money. The ways to use it, and the ways not to use it.

Money is a tool, but just like a hammer, used incorrectly can cause some painful problems. You aren’t doing your child any favors by forking over the cash or card each time they hold out their hand. That’s just asking for a future problem. So how can you make sure your kid is prepared for those future adult moments? You’ve got to teach them!

It might not be fun, but it’s necessary. Did you know that in many households money is a taboo subject? We can talk to our kids about avoiding drugs, but we can’t teach them about budgeting and the actual value of things they are spending that money on? That’s crazy! It’s time to put a stop to the myth that having serious conversations about money with your kids is a bad thing.

Here’s how:

First, have THE talk

You know, the one about making sure you save, not just spend! Sure, a new pair of sunglasses or a video game would be really great to have, but practicing delayed gratification is a really important skill to have. They’ll thank their adult selves later when they’ve saved up enough for that new gadget without going into debt, or having to skip buying an essential item, like groceries or gas for their car.

 It’s important to help your child get into a habit of saving. Once in the routine of consistently funding a rainy day reserve, they’ll stay in that mode the rest of their lives.

Need a fun and interactive way to help your teen budget better?

Our one-of-a-kind Budget Workbook for Teens is the perfect tool for your teenager! It is a printable, fillable workbook that will get your child to be excited about money and their future.

Includes 3 bonuses, including monthly Zoom calls, your teen added to The Future Millionaire Club, and a private Facebook group for parents!

Show, Don’t Tell

How will your child know how to handle finances if you don’t show them? They aren’t going to realize how expensive the electric bill is if they don’t see it, right? And they didn’t know how to make scrambled eggs til you showed them. Personal finance is no different, it’s a learned skill. Without someone explaining and demonstrating the basics such as how to bank, how to write a check and balance the checkbook, and how to budget, things are going to be much harder for your child out there in the real world.

Make the most of your time now, to show, not tell. Go grocery shopping together and teach them to compare prices and sizes. Model good spending behaviors and savings habits. Be open with talking about saving for larger purchases, like vacations, and how it’s important to make sure necessities are paid for first, before the extras.

Encourage a Budget

No child is ever too young (or too old) to start budgeting. Having an idea of what you need to spend your money on and how much is left is going to be something that they will have to do for the rest of their lives. Why not help them learn how to budget and take the overwhelm out of this new challenge? Budgeting doesn’t have to be boring. It can be as simple as a piece of paper or labeled envelopes, or in an app or spreadsheet. The trick is to find what works best for your child, and it is something that they will actually follow through with.

What’s next?

When the time comes for those big, adult steps like the loan, the credit card or the contract, use these tips to help your child stay safe and aware of what they are doing.

Loans

Before your teen wants to sign for a loan, read it through with them. Make sure they realize that a loan isn’t free money. It’s something they are borrowing, and will have to pay back, often at an interest rate. Penalties for missing loan repayments or defaulting on the loan can have serious financial consequences that can follow them for many years.

Credit Cards

A shiny credit card can be so tempting! Especially when there’s a fun design on it. Buy something now, pay it back later when you have the money…right? That’s a perspective most kids (and let’s be honest, many adults!) have, but since you are here, then you know that’s not a good choice. Just like with a loan, your child may not realize the interest accrued on a credit card can be astronomical, with many cards even charging 25% interest!

Help them to read through the fine print on the application, and make sure they realize that while building credit can be a good thing, having bad credit from missing payments isn’t a good thing.

Contracts

For those going off to college, a contract might be needed for off campus housing. Teach your child how seriously they need to take that piece of paper they signed their name to. Not following the rules of the contract can result in a number of adult problems they might not be ready to face! Especially if Mom or Dad isn’t nearby to help!

Teaching your children how to handle their money responsibly doesn’t have to be scary, and it doesn’t have to be hard. It can be done naturally, and incorporated into everyday situations. Before you know it, your teen will be ready to tackle any of life’s financial challenges. Now, if you could just get them to pick up that dirty laundry covering the floor…!

How to Help Your Teen Resist Financial Peer Pressure

For good or bad, peer pressure is part of teenage life.

Kids influence each other greatly as they navigate adolescence, and it can be incredibly tough to forge your path as a teenager. While young people are affected by all kinds of peer pressure, one area of development can lead to serious consequences as an adult: money-related pressure. If kids begin to try to “keep up with the Joneses” at a young age, it can be really difficult to cut out that behavior as an adult. Fortunately, there are ways that we can help our teenage kids deal with these challenges.

Marketers are ruthlessly effective.

They target vulnerable populations, those who are not fully independent in their thinking and spending habits. Like teenagers! These marketing companies appeal to the idea of being “cool,” and especially being sure to fit in – because everybody else is. Whether it be smartphones, clothing, video games, or even cars for older teens, a lot of pressure is created for kids to fit the mold. Even though their Samsung base model phone may still work perfectly fine, the iPhone X is new – and all of the cool kids have it. Teens are faced with a lot of pressure to buy, buy, buy.

At what point does this stop?

Throughout college, into young adulthood, and beyond, many people will continue to spend beyond their means instead of within them. Many experts cite this as the single biggest obstacle to wealth. People may bring in larger and larger paychecks over time, but these spending habits are so ingrained that they cannot accumulate wealth. The goal becomes to live the high life: buying the latest, most expensive things, booking luxury vacations, outdoing your neighbors. Instead of saving and investing money, many do their best to keep up with the Joneses, costing their financial future as a result.

For teenagers, though, this pitfall can be avoided. Parents can teach their kids important lessons about how to overcome peer pressure that they certainly will face, and instill positive spending habits for now and the future. Above all else, we adults can model good money management and spending within our budgets.

The most important lessons, including those about financial responsibility, begin with clear communication with your teen.

It is key to establish that comfort zone with your kids, where they know they can trust you to not judge, as well as to create a mutually-respectful interaction. Explain to teens that advertisers and marketers can be sneaky, and they are directly trying to get you and your friends to buy their products. It is good to have some skepticism when watching a commercial or seeing an ad online. If kids realize that the latest gadget won’t make them cool, that can go a long way into avoiding overspending on expensive products.

Another way to help your teens rise above peer pressure is to encourage and celebrate leadership within them.

Point out bold, independent people – whether they are friends, celebrities, relatives, entrepreneurs, or someone in the news – who are making positive changes and influencing others in a good way. When kids make their own choices, and not just doing something because that’s what everyone else is doing, call it out. Congratulate them. Let them know that they were born leaders and that success will come by confidently making decisions that they know are right. Hopefully, as teens turn into adults, this idea will stick. Instead of buying the latest, most expensive car just to impress others, they will choose one that fits into their budget. Real wealth can be built, not by constantly keeping up with others, but by choosing to not care what others think about your spending, and living within your means!

Set your teen up for financial success and confidence!

Our one-of-a-kind Budget Workbook for Teens is the perfect interactive and exciting financial learning tool for your child.

Includes 3 bonuses, including monthly Zoom calls, your teen added to The Future Millionaire Club, and a private Facebook group for parents!

One of the most dangerous, most powerful forms of peer pressure that our teenagers face today is through social media.

90% of teens are on one or more social media platforms, and they are on them a lot! Peer pressure becomes much more complex. Instead of a group of kids influencing others to “get on board” and keep up, even if it is financially irresponsible, now you have a whole continuous stream. Photos and Instagram posts show off people’s material milestones. All that matters to teens is how many “likes” people got, and how many friends or followers they may have on social media. Someone with a ton of influence posts something that may not be financially responsible, like their $1000 shoes, a picture of their exclusive tropical vacation, or their penthouse party in Las Vegas. And guess who that affects the most? Young adults and teens.
So, what can parents do about it? Monitor teens’ social media, closely. It is okay to demand access to kids’ online activity, especially if that is established when kids first venture into the world of social media. If kids are let loose into the online world, without adult supervision, they can be drawn down a negative path pretty easily. And this is not just about money. This peer pressure can have a serious impact on body image, self-esteem, and the ability to think independently. As kids get older, parents can loosen their control and monitoring (not completely, though!) to show their children that they trust in them to do the right thing. More than likely, teens who trust – and are trusted by –their parents, will make responsible decisions in money and life.
As with anything in parenting, helping teens overcome peer pressure is a fine line. You try not to be a “helicopter parent,” but you can’t be hands-off, either. Keeping lessons and discussions focused on financial responsibility can be a great approach. If teens can learn at a young age that “keeping up with the Joneses” is a dangerous habit to get into, those lessons will shape the adult they become. Peer pressure is all around us, at any age. Teens, though, have so much more pressure on different levels. The guidance that we parents can give them during these years is crucial, more so than ever.

How to Plan for Wealth that Lasts for Generations

Many people know how to build wealth. One of the most difficult challenges, though, is creating wealth and ensuring that it continues and grows throughout future generations. Did you know that 70% of families lose their wealth in the second generation?! Why is that? It is because many people don’t plan and consider the effects on their kids and beyond. Generational wealth is a definite possibility, as long as you have a strategy. Follow these steps to generational wealth, and your kids (and grandkids) will thank you.

Step 1: Teach Your Kids Financial Literacy

The key to teaching your kids about financial literacy is to start early. As soon as they begin to grasp the concepts of value and money, you can begin to build their financial literacy. There are countless opportunities to talk about money, whether it is through family game time, commercials on TV, or trips to the supermarket. Children grasp the ideas of saving, spending, and giving early in life, and parents can reinforce this learning in many ways. These are traits that can carry young kids into the teenage years and beyond, leading to financially successful adults.

Another way to teach financial literacy to your children is to be an example (a positive one!). Don’t be afraid to tell them stories, to show that you are financially literate. You can do this without bragging! Model how you save money, how you invest in the stock market, and how you give a portion of your wealth to various causes. The more your kids learn about money at a young age, the more likely your family will achieve generational wealth.

Step 2: Determine Your Family Values

One of the most critical aspects of planning for wealth that lasts for generations is your family values. Parents pass on their ideals to their children, for good or bad. Many times, we don’t realize that we are teaching our kids our beliefs and goals. But kids pick up on everything. They are watching us, imitating us, and forming value systems based on how we talk and act about money. If we can instill positive values about wealth, our kids should take these and later pass them on to their children. The result? Generational wealth!

An example of a value is the importance of giving. If giving is a significant component of your financial outlook, you can pass it on directly to your kids. Have your children learn about giving and then let them practice. They will realize that giving is a big part of financial literacy.

The same could be said about saving and spending. Some families prioritize saving, while others focus on investing as a financial strategy. These parents can show their children exactly how they accumulate wealth, how they have separate accounts for different purposes. Investing parents can demonstrate how they research stocks, mutual funds, and other investments. They can explain how investing is a proven way to build wealth, and hopefully, future generations will follow their example. This lesson is especially helpful for older kids, such as teenagers.

If you are not crystal clear on your family values, it is ok to begin to develop a set of these values – start somewhere! They will evolve. Take a seat and write down your money goals, both short-term and long-term. You can also expand to write down what you dream of for your family.  Once you have all of this down on paper, your family values can begin to take shape.

Want to help your child live in abundance?

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    Step 3: Tell Your Stories to Your Kids

    To young children, parents are the whole world. We have a lot of power (in a good way) to shape their future path. A lot of times, though, kids don’t realize what goes on behind the scenes. They may get nice Christmas presents, go on vacation, and in general, understand that their family has enough money to get by.

    However, they probably don’t see the sacrifices that parents are making to create this wealth. Building wealth is not easy. It takes hard work and planning. Parents who create wealth need to implement strategies to make sure that money grows. We need to create budgets, analyze our paychecks, deal with taxes, and monitor our investments. There is a lot involved in creating wealth!

    So, what to do? Well, pass it on. Kids need to know the nitty-gritty, and that wealth doesn’t appear magically. We can share with them all of the details that we deal with daily to keep the money growing. There is a process, and processes can be taught. Especially as kids get older, we can ramp up how we deliver our money knowledge to them.

    One way to do this is by telling them stories. Because building wealth is challenging, it can be easy to fall into complaining. But we can’t! Instead, we can teach them the process and share with them the good stories from which they can learn.

    For example, I grew up in Istanbul and came here with no knowledge of English. I had no money. Yet, I have managed to build a life here from scratch. These are the things we can tell our children about in detail, so that they can learn. Anyone can build wealth and understanding specific ways to accomplish that is essential.

    The importance of following a plan

    If you can follow these three steps, you will be better off than 90% of those building wealth. That is because they don’t have a plan beyond their own. Creating generational wealth takes a strategy. Teaching kids about financial literacy is so important, but so is instilling the family values that will be the foundation of the future. Tell your stories to your kids and let them see how your hard work is paying off. Show them how they will benefit from your sacrifices, and that their children and grandchildren will enjoy the results, too!

    Money Knowledge Your Teen Will Thank You For Eventually

    It is a well-known fact that teenagers know everything.

    At least they think they do. Sure, their knowledge of specific topics is pretty impressive, like video games and Dua Lipa (I literally just heard of her yesterday; apparently, she’s a pop star). But teens have a lot to learn from their parents: especially about money. With an organized plan to make sure we impart our money wisdom onto our kids, they should be well on their way to being money-savvy adults. Let’s break out that crystal ball because here are the 6 “thank-yous” you will hear from your teens in the future.

    1: Thank you for teaching me how to budget

    First of all, you’re welcome. And I’m glad I taught you some manners. A budget is critical for anyone, whether they are kids or teens or adults. Learning to budget in these formative years is going to set the spending stage for the years ahead. Some key points to teach teens are:

    • Create a balance in your budget – be specific and clear with your spending and saving categories
    • Live within your budget – if you overspend as a teenager, you are flying into the danger zone as an adult
    • Teach a system and stick to it – for example, the 50/30/20 budget (50% needs, 30% wants, 20% savings/debt) is a popular one
    • Put your teen’s technology addiction to good use – use apps like YNAB to budget

    Need a fun and interactive way to help your teen budget better?

    Our one-of-a-kind Budget Workbook for Teens is the perfect tool for your teenager! It is a printable, fillable workbook that will get your child to be excited about money and their future.

    Includes 3 bonuses, including monthly Zoom calls, your teen added to The Future Millionaire Club, and a private Facebook group for parents!

    2: Thank you for showing me how to buy my first stock

    Historically, the stock market is the most powerful, reliable investment space available. To create real wealth, you need your money to grow exponentially over time. Hello, compound interest! Getting teens interested in stocks, and showing them how to buy their first one will give them a huge leg up.

    1. Explain the basics of stocks. It can be very complicated when you are just starting; simple ideas like, “buy low, sell high” can help them understand.
    2. Use concrete examples. Microsoft, to a teen, is most likely boooring. But it is a $1 trillion company, and its stock is expected to rise steadily over time. Others, like Tesla, are pretty cool. Its CEO moonlights as a rocket-launching space explorer and an inventor of the Hyperloop – whatever that actually is. Tesla’s stock is very volatile, though, and is not for everyone. Show the differences among stocks as far as risk tolerance.
    3. Walk your teen through the process of actually buying stock. You will need to have a funding source, such as a checking account, along with a brokerage account, like E-Trade or Robin Hood. Once the money is sent from the checking to the brokerage account, submit an order to buy, and voila! You are a stockholder.
    4. Make sure that teens know stocks are for the long haul. As Warren Buffet says, the best time to sell a stock is “never.” Buy a quality first stock and hold on.

    3: Thank you for gifting me personal finance books

    I know. Your teen thought these were the books you read to put them to sleep when they were little. In reality, these are the ones that will help you sleep well as an adult. You have likely read/skimmed those personal finance books in your bookcase. Hand them down!

    1. Try to gift an assortment of materials. Many personal finance books repeat similar ideas. Diversify into specific topics, so teens have a toolkit to work with.
    2. Have teens explain, in their own words, the concepts they learn.
    3. Apply these principles early, beginning with allowances and their first jobs.
    4. Encourage kids to begin a personal finance library to build as they get older.

    4: Thank you for teaching me how to save

    Teens sure know how to spend; they can be taught to save, too! Having a money management system can help a lot, such as using Spend-Save-Give jars. Saving becomes part of kids’ routines, moving through the teenage years into adulthood.

    1. Start saving from a very young age. The earlier, the better!
    2. Offer to match savings with your child. This can be encouraging – their money grows twice as fast! Also, it shows the power of teamwork and builds a strong bond with kids.
    3. Show them how to set savings goals. Saving for a large purchase that they really want, like a car, can be motivating. Figuring out how much to set aside each month can help them monitor their own savings.

    5: Thank you for shaping my abundant money mindset

    So gracious today! But the truth is your teen’s view on money is all in their heads. They are likely either going to think that money is great or that money is evil. An abundant money mindset is enjoying money, knowing that you have enough, the enjoyment of giving money. In short, it is the belief that money is positive, and there will always be plenty around.

    1. Explain to your teens the ideas of scarcity vs. abundance. There is always an opportunity, you just need to know where to look.
    2. Giving and saving can feel just as good (or better!) than spending money.
    3. Money is not evil. It can lead to great things.
    4. Abundant money mindset is a belief in yourself. The rest will fall into place.

    6: Thank you for opening a 529 college savings account

    Many parents don’t opt to open a 529 account, but it is a really great tool. College is (unbelievably) expensive, so any way that makes it easier – and cheaper – to save for it is a plus in my book.

    1. Regular contributions, starting when your kids are small, will cover most or all of the college tuition. Your balance grows over time, too, as it is invested in the market.
    2. 529 withdrawals are not taxed. Not. Taxed. (If the withdrawal is for anything school-related.)
    3. Anyone can contribute to your child’s 529. You hear that, Uncle Bill?

    So, there you have it, my soon-to-be-adult: the money knowledge you will thank me for giving you as a teen. Stick to these 6 ideas, and you should be financially ready for your future! Now, go listen to your Dua Lipa – whoever that is.

    Teaching Kids Money Lessons in Tough Times

    The COVID-19 pandemic has caused enormous stress, anxiety, and pain around the world. Those who have been directly affected by the virus, and their loved ones, have had their lives turned upside down in just a few short months. If a benefit can be found, it is that during this quarantine, there are a plethora of teachable moments for our children to learn about money. We are living in a real-time economic emergency, with a chance to show our kids why managing money is so important.

    Emergency Fund

    Many Americans, as well as people across the globe, quickly realized what they were missing when the virus hit: an emergency fund.

    Financial advisors recommend socking away 3-6 months (I would argue skewing towards 6 months, at least) of your income into a savings account in case money is needed immediately, or to stretch out over times of no paychecks. COVID-19 has taught us how quickly life, employment, and income can change. Kids can be shown (by example, ideally) that emergency funds can carry the household through rough financial patches. Without an emergency fund, families can go into debt, be late paying bills, and even run low on necessities. Parents can begin teaching this early on.

    If children are used to having an emergency fund – even it is mostly dimes and nickels- it can become a habit that carries with them throughout their lives.

    Besides the emergency fund, I try to constantly keep and maintain a budget, and share the concept with my kids. My children started budgeting at a very young age, but it is never too late to start. The category of “savings” is so important for children to have in their budgets. Instead of kids spending all of the money that they get, they can save a certain percentage.

    When money becomes tight, like it is for many right now, budgets can be scaled and adjusted to make sure that our finances stay in good shape. Being able to look back and show children how budgets can be (literally) lifesaving is such a powerful lesson. Many people spend without knowing what they are truly spending on; they could benefit so much from just sitting down and creating a budget to get their spending in check. When children are shown that by allocating their money into categories, even with small amounts, they can manage their financial situations much more effectively. This is also a good quarantine activity, for children (for parents, too!) to create, adjust, and analyze their budgets.

    There are lots of games out there, as well, such as Life and Monopoly, that can be used to show the value of watching closely where your money is going and how to best budget it.

    Multiple Streams of Income

    The coronavirus crisis has also shown the world a hugely important, and often overlooked, benefit: multiple streams of income. Just as it is always best to diversify your investments in the stock market, having different ways of making money is crucial.

    In slowing economies – like we are likely about to have – when one stream is shut off or slows down, the other ones can compensate for it. Multiple income streams are also necessary when times are good, as people can build wealth and security twice (or three times or more) faster than when they are counting on just one paycheck.

    Kids can be taught this concept as soon as they understand the value of money. They can be shown this through simple lessons, or by parents leading through example. I work a full-time job, I teach at UCLA, and I run the Kids Money Academy. I don’t say that to brag, but to show that there are so many ways to create income streams that are completely unrelated to one another.

    A computer programmer can freelance as a consultant, a police officer can offer civilian self-protection classes, a martial arts studio can co-operate as an after-school tutoring center – the list goes on and on.

    Parents can show their kids the power of money, especially as it compounds over time. The stock market (well, over the long-term, maybe not so much during the COVID-19 era so far) and interest-bearing savings accounts and CDs are other options to increase your income streams.

    Encourage kids to think out of the box and create their own income streams. Summertime lemonade stand too limited? How about expanding with a carwash option for customers? Why not have Mom or Dad put that money into an online savings account that pays a higher interest rate? You would be amazed at the creative ideas that children come up with – just ask them!

    This crisis has shown the world the danger of having only one income stream – just look at all of the restaurants and one-dimensional businesses that are shutting down. It is a sad, yet very powerful, lesson for kids to learn.

    Want to help your child live in abundance?

    These coloring pages for kids help form a positive and healthy money relationship. Sign up below to download this and all of our other helpful freebies!

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      Economic Cycle

      To kids, the fear and confusion of this COVID-19 quarantine may feel like the end of the world. To parents, it is important to remember and to explain to our kids, that the economic cycle is always churning and chugging along.

      Since the advent of money, there have been booms and busts. What goes up will come down, but guess what? It will go back up! Investors in the stock market need just look at a long-term chart to see the fluctuations. The economy will slowly and steadily build steam before contracting in different degrees.

      There are four stages: expansion, peak, contraction, and trough. Being in a contraction, and especially in a trough in the cycle, is not fun for anyone. This is part of the natural economic flow, though, and kids can be taught that idea. There are opportunities to be had in each stage of the economic cycle.

      Talk About Hope

      Be patient, have hope. Use this time of quarantine as a chance to teach kids the importance of managing their money in emergencies. COVID-19 has slammed the world against a wall, but there are silver linings to be found. Families are spending a lot more time together, time which can be used for parents to teach life-long money lessons to their children!

      How to Manage Your Child’s Expectations for Christmas

      Aaaaah, Christmas. It’s a time for families to gather, loved ones to mingle with a glass of egg nog, and presents. Lots and lots of presents.

      For many families – and especially kids – the gifts are the focus of the holidays. With the ease of Amazon and other online ordering conveniences, it is easier than ever to stockpile gifts for your kids. Many parents don’t want to disappoint their children and end up going way overboard with their present-purchasing. However, parents can create a pre-Christmas plan for buying presents, so that kid’s expectations are clear and focused.

      Create the Wish List Together

      As a parent, I can remember asking my child to list all the gifts that he wanted for Christmas. Many of them were smaller, reasonably priced items, and so I convinced myself that I should just buy them all. I soon found the problem with this, though. All of those presents under the tree on Christmas morning sure looked good, but my son ripped through opening those presents before I could say, “Merry Christmas!” With so many gifts to open, each present lost its meaning and its value. I decided then to trim down the Wish List for the following holiday seasons.

      This year, I sat down with my child and we created the list together. He wanted to list over a dozen different presents that he wanted Santa to bring. Remembering the previous year, I helped him whittle his list down to a much shorter version.

      Through the power of persuasion, I convinced him that 3 very important gifts are better than a whole bunch of meaningless ones. He eventually “convinced” me that since he was such a good boy in 2019, he felt he deserved a bonus gift. I quickly agreed to that request: 3 presents plus a bonus gift sounded fair to me. I didn’t have to fight him about the number of presents, and he felt validated and rewarded for behaving well all year.

      We ended up both being happy with the list that we came up with as a team.

      Giving > Receiving

      Another approach that parents can take around Christmas presents is pushing the idea of giving. The intrinsic reward of giving – the positive feeling of being generous and kind to others – is a lifelong benefit for kids to hold onto. If parents can make Christmas a time of giving and not just receiving, the season can take on an entirely new direction. When children look forward to giving, it creates a snowball effect. Through giving, kids grow and develop socially, cultivate high levels of empathy, and improve their self-esteem.

      There are many ways for kids to give during the holiday season. Charities are one option, and kids can choose which type of organization they want their gift (or money) to go to. Churches and schools often arrange toy drives where kids can donate toys to those in need, as well.

      Another bonus to children giving is that their expectations of what Christmas is all about can shift. If before, Christmas was all about how many presents they can receive, then hopefully the holidays can now turn into a time of positivity and compassion.

      Changing Christmas Traditions

      For many families, opening presents is a huge part of Christmas. For many kids around the world, Christmas morning is the most exciting time of the entire year. It is a lot of fun for children to find gifts under the tree just for them, and then tear the wrapping paper off to see what they got. By introducing new Christmas traditions, however, parents can take the singular focus off of unwrapping presents.

      When I was a child, my parents would let me open one present on Christmas Eve. I remember that with fondness, but I also remember that it was sort of a letdown. It made me want to open all the presents right then and it prolonged the focus of unwrapping presents. By the time Christmas morning came around, I was in full present-getting mode.

      I decided, then, to switch up my own family’s Christmas Eve tradition. One such tradition that my family likes to do is decorate gingerbread men. Every December 24th, each of us not only decorates our own gingerbread man, but we also have a full-fledged competition. The winner gets bragging rights and it is a big hit in our household. We all look forward to it each year. The gingerbread man decoration contest has become just as much of a tradition in our family as unwrapping Christmas presents on Christmas morning.

      Countless other traditions can be changed or started during this holiday season, to get the kids away from just opening gifts. Every family is different and can come up with clever ideas to try.

      Don’t Worry About Disappointing

      I’ll never forget the first gift my son got me for Christmas. It was one of his old bookmarks, nearly torn in half, stuffed inside of an envelope. I still use that old bookmark today. The point is that it was a gift from my child, and it truly didn’t matter to me what it was.

      Of course, children are different and they do care more about what they receive than parents. They have specific items on their Wish Lists, and they will probably be disappointed if those presents don’t appear under the Christmas tree. However, parents can get those lists down to a reasonable number of meaningful gifts.

      By changing the focus of the holiday season, parents can easily manage their children’s Christmas expectations. Parents can teach – not just around Christmas, but throughout the whole year – that giving is very important and can be a regular part of a child’s life.

      Adding or changing Christmas traditions can be another valuable tool for parents to use. By getting kids excited about events other than unwrapping presents, the season can take on a whole new meaning. Hopefully, with these different ways to manage kids’ Christmas expectations, children will never be disappointed during the holidays!

      How to Encourage Kids to be More Charitable

      "Congratulations, kid. You filled up that jar with money that you’ve been saving up for weeks and weeks. Now, let’s give it away!"

      The confused look on their faces at that moment isn’t all that surprising. The idea of charity is a tough one for little people to wrap their heads around. Each dollar they save is just that – theirs. They have been planning on what to buy with that money for a long time. Toys, playing cards, the latest Beanie Boo – whatever it is, it’s going to end up in their personal collection. Or so they thought.

      Charity is a foreign idea to a lot of children. And that’s alright. They’re young, and they have time to learn empathy and the art of being charitable. The idea hope is that they will become lifelong givers. Let’s take a look at some steps to encourage kids to become more charitable.

      The Give Jar

      You have probably heard the jar system for kids. This involves kids putting their hard-earned money into three jars: a Spend jar, a Save jar, and a Give jar. The Give jar is the only one that matters for charity.

      When kids first put money in this jar, I bet it feels good. A lot like the other jars must feel. They see the money piling upwards, steadily rising to the top.

      Then Mom or Dad takes it away.

      What kids may not understand at first is that their money is going to help others in need. After a few rounds of filling the Give jar and sending that money off to charity, the point of all this becomes clear.

      Donating to the Right Cause

      There are lots and lots of charities out there to choose from. In this digital world, getting your (or your kids’) money to those organizations is easier than ever. Sometimes, though, choosing which charity to donate to can be a bit of a challenge, especially for little people.

      In this case, it’s okay to take care of number one.

      Letting kids choose where to donate their money – even if it ends up going somewhere you don’t think is effective or the best choice – is important. If a child loves dogs, let them donate to the SPCA. If a kid loves panda bears, let them donate to the World Wildlife Fund. If a kid loves slugs – well, you have to draw the line somewhere, right?

      Regardless, if a child feels ownership and involvement in their decision of where their charitable donation is going, they’ll likely keep on giving. And isn’t that the goal?

      All Hands On Deck

      Being charitable is a family affair. If donating is going to be a part of the tapestry of a family, the parents are probably giving to charity, too. Children, especially at a young age, look up to their parents as role models in so many ways. By talking about charity, and especially by seeing their parents actively donating, kids can see how it works and why it is so important.

      In 2017, I was really trying to push the idea to my son about the benefits of charity. Words are nice – and crucial – but so are actions. I had a lofty goal in mind. I wanted to raise 25,000 dollars to help build a school for elementary students in Ghana, Africa.

      And I wanted my son to not only learn by watching me raise the money: I wanted him to help me. At that time, he was only 4 years old. And guess what? We did it.

      Through an organization called Pencils of Promise, we were able to solicit donations from family and friends via social media outreach. Not only that, but my son sold lemonade and donated the proceeds. He directly raised money to benefit a specific cause, and he saw the achievement of a goal that had been set.

      To see our donations leading to a tangible result – a school in Africa for the memory of my late dad– was incredible. It also helped instill in my son a sense of purpose. It gave him a reason to keep saving money in that Give jar.

      Teach Through Current Events

      The world is a crazy place. Every day, there is a huge news event (or two, or three). Natural disasters happen all the time – tornadoes, wildfires, tsunamis, earthquakes. Instead of reacting to the news sadly or in shock, parents can use it to teach compassion.

      For example, say a wildfire has raged across California and the news is showing scores of burnt homes. This can be an opportunity to brainstorm how kids can actively help, or to participate in charity. Often, the news segment will announce how people can donate, and will include a website address or phone number for the organization spearheading relief efforts. If nothing else, this can be a great talking point.

      Keep it Going

      Life, especially with children, is busy. With all of the activities, sports, and social engagements going on (and that’s just for the kids!), it can be hard to focus on one thing, such as charity. Instead of just one annual push for charity, many families try to keep the giving going throughout the year.

      Making a habit of helping others is a great way to instill charitable ways. There are lots of ways that children can help out, and it’s not always about giving money. They can volunteer their time. They can show empathy for other students at school. There are many organizations out there that give opportunities for volunteering and community-building. Charity can be more than donations.

      Raising a charitable child can be so rewarding, both for the child and the parent. Kids can benefit on many levels by donating their time and money. Using ideas such as the Give jar, family fundraising, and teachable, actionable moments, kids and their families can have plenty of opportunities to be charitable.

      While it might be tough to swallow at first, kids can save a lot of money for the purpose of giving it away.

      4 Tips for Structuring an Allowance Program for Your Children

      When you were a child, did you look forward to the day when your parents would give you your allowance?

      Did you enjoy the feeling of those crisp, new bills in your pocket and the freedom of knowing you could do whatever you wanted with them? Did you spend them all at once? Or did you save some up for a rainy day?

      Over the years, parenting trends have come and gone but the concept of parents giving their children allowance is one that has stayed strong to this day. It’s a great way to  teach children how to be responsible with their money.

      The Reasoning Behind the Allowance

      Parents can give their children allowance for different reasons. Some parents will give their children a set amount each week. This is a system called pure allowance.

      In a pure allowance system, children are not expected to do chores to earn their allowance. However, the amount of money they get is not contingent on the chores they do. Some parents prefer this system because it makes children see chores as more of a mutual obligation between themselves and their family members and they do not count on an outside motivator to inspire them.

      Some parents give their children allowance based on the chores they do, and no chores means no mula. In this chore-based system, children learn they need to work to make money and they learn about choices and consequences. However, some argues that it also gives them the choice not to do chores and establishes a system where children are rewarded for performing tasks they should be performing anyway.

      Other parents choose a hybrid method which is to give their children a set amount of money but give them extra if they go above and beyond in the chores they do. This provides parents with an enforceable way to give their children allowance, setting clear expectations while giving them an opportunity to learn about financial responsibility.

      There are different schools of thought involving the giving of allowance and the reasoning behind it, and that is okay. The main goal of giving allowance should be teaching children financial responsibility and this will be achieved regardless of what approach parents take.

      • Pure allowance
      • Chore-based allowance
      • Hybrid allowance methods

      Tip #1: Communicate with Your Kids About Their Allowance

      No matter how you choose to give your child allowance and what reasoning you use, it’s important that your children understand why they are getting an allowance. Parents should communicate with their children to make it clear that they are being taught financial responsibility. They also should be given advice about making wise purchases.

      Tip #2: Come up With an Amount

      It’s a good idea to set an amount when structuring your child’s allowance program. Here again, different schools of thought come into play.

      Some parents will give their children money to cover their necessities only. These children may be given extra money for entertainment purposes if they go above and beyond in the chores they do around the house.

      If this is the case, parents should give their children fairly large allowances to cover their basic expenses and determine how much they will be giving towards entertainment purposes on a case by case basis.

      In other households, parents may cover their child’s necessities and give them extra money for pleasure and entertainment.

      If this is how you structure your allowance, careful consideration must be used to come up with an amount you think is reasonable.

      Your child’s age may also be a factor in the amount of allowance you give them. Younger children will not have as many needs and they may not be ready to take on the responsibility of handling larger amounts of money.  

      You may want to give your younger children just a couple of dollars a week to give them some experience with handling money.

      Some experts advise giving children a dollar for each year they have been on the earth… so a five year old will get $5, a six year old will get $6 and so on.

      Tip #3: Create a Budgeting System

      It’s important to teach your children the importance of saving money. Therefore, you should set up a system where children can put aside some money for spending and some for saving. One way to do this is to set up jars where money can be stored for different purposes.

      As children get older, you can open savings and checking accounts for them.

      This will teach them that money isn’t only for spending; it’s for saving as well.

      You can recommend the amount of money your child puts in each bucket, or account, but it’s also important to let them make mistakes when it comes to the spending of their money. If your child spends all their money on something frivolous, they may cry and beg for more money later in the week.

      We all know how parents have a weak spot when it comes to their children’s tears but staying strong on refusing to give them more money will teach them a valuable life lesson.

      Tip #4: Routinize Your Payments

      It will be easier for children to learn how to budget their money if they are given a set amount on a certain day of the week or month.

      Although modern technology has made transferring money easy, it is best to give young children actual dollar bills. The giving and receiving of tangible objects will enforce the reality of getting money and spending it which will establish a healthy money mindset.

      When children are older, you can start familiarizing them with the wonderful world of online banking. Parents can use technology to have allowances automatically transferred into their children’s account. It is a good idea to set up text alerts to let children know when money has transferred to make the receipt of their allowance a bit more realistic.

      A Final Word on Allowance...

      Parents take different approaches in the way they structure their children’s allowance programs and there is really no wrong or right way to do it. The important thing is to remember that when you’re giving your child an allowance, you’re doing more than just giving them money, you are teaching them financial responsibility. And that is a valuable lesson that will come in handy throughout their lives.  

      Forget About Piggy Bank. Try This Instead.

      You may have seen this money management approach before. Kids are given three jars: one for saving money, one for spending money, and one for giving money to good causes. 

      These jars – labeled Save, Spend, and Give – supply children with measurable, achievable goals and tangible results. As kids receive money, they decide which jar or jars to contribute to. Ideally, some form of balance will result, and children will learn the power of balanced money management. This is all good in theory.

      • Save
      • Spend
      • Give

      You haven’t met my son, though.

      The first few attempts at this, the only jar he constantly filled to the top was the one labeled “Spend.” We would all hear the sound of coins jingling and clanging into the jars in his bedroom. We would picture perfectly balanced amounts of money in the three jars, but no. All of that racket was directed at the Spend jar. How did my son finally understand the idea here, that the goal is splitting the money into the different jars?

      Teaching children effective money habits can be challenging, in general. However, there are many tactics for us ,parents, to use that will help their little ones establish positive habits in the future.

      The “Save, Spend, Give” method can work wonders if it is set up and executed properly.

      The jar for spending is very important. Many money lessons can be learned through kids’ accumulation and spending of money. They can learn the value of a dollar. They can see how to stretch money by shopping around, and by looking for generic products instead of name brand ones. Kids can see which coins are worth something, and how much money it takes to achieve a goal. They can get an idea as to how it can take a long time to save money, but a quick (sometimes way too quick) time to spend it.

      Kids like to spend money.

      At least, they like the things that can be bought with money. Candy, toys, Pokémon cards. The Spend jar is reserved for certain things that a kid really wants to buy. For my son, it is anything related to Minecraft and Legos. Lots of kids have their eyes set on that one thing, and that’s what their Spend jar will be used for.

      The Save jar can lead to habits that will help kids save in the future. Many wealthy adults say that the importance of saving, and starting to save early, cannot be said enough. Saving at a young age, and enjoying the fruits of saving that money, can help lead to an adult who accumulates wealth. Some kids love to save money. Watching that jar fill up and up, knowing that in the end, they get to keep that money, is exciting. I still don’t know if my son truly enjoy going to the bank to deposit his latest batch of cash, or the lollipop he gets there every time. Either way, the bank is a happy place for them. The Spend jar is a motivating factor for that.

      The Give jar is the most complex. It encourages empathy, and children may get that fuzzy feeling that comes when you help others. It is a teachable moment, when a child puts money into the Give jar, though they may be confused about what it truly means to give. We all know the value of charity and giving to others. Many children know this at a young age, too. The hard part with this jar is that once it is filled up, the parent may take it away. They take it to make sure it gets delivered to the proper recipient: St. Jude, Red Cross, UNICEF – whatever cause you and your kids believe in. Kids often don’t see the direct result of their contributions, even though they are certainly helping others in need.

       A lot of parents agree that clear jars are better than a solid-color piggy bank. When kids see exactly how much money they have in each jar, they can be motivated to keep on saving. Solid-color piggy banks can be frustrating. They tend to feel heavy at about half-capacity. Kids open them up and realize they still have a long way to go. It is a lot more inspiring to see those coins piling up every time you add to the jar. Children get excited to see those concrete results.

      There is no perfect percentage to be put in each jar. Even as adults, we have different money habits. Some of us like to spend (like me), some of us like to save, and some of us like to give (my whole household could do more of this). The idea is to have some kind of balance. Kids like to have a certain amount of control in their actions and decisions. By giving them the option of where to put their money, they are given ownership of their decisions. We can guide them. We can use the jars to teach basic math skills and to show cause and effect. You add more to this jar over and over, you will have less for the other jars. If two of the jars are almost full, we can point out that the other jar is falling behind. We can remind them all the time what the jars represent.

      Many experts suggest that money habits –good or bad- are learned by age 6 or 7. Not that they can’t be undone, but bad habits do die hard. On the flip side of that, good habits become a part of our routine easily, as well. If kids are taught to save, spend, and give appropriately at a young age, they may hold onto those habits into adulthood.

      Overall, I think that every proven strategy helps groom happy, responsible little money managers. Some people don’t realize how early really good money habits begin. The “Save, Spend, Give” strategy can be a great item for parents to have in their toolkit.

      Meet Sammie: Parenting and Money Series

      Sammie from @theteaching.momma is joining us today! I love how aware and proactive she is when it comes to raising money-savvy kids.

      What is one thing you wish you knew about money when you were a kid?

      Sammie: As a child, I was taught virtually nothing about money. My family never talked about it. Back then, I suspected we didn’t have a lot, but there was no talk about it, so I didn’t know for sure. Honestly, any type of money lesson would have been great and would have helped me avoid a lot of the mistakes I made along the way.

      What money skill do you want your kids to master before entering into adulthood?

      Sammie: A detailed saving and spending plan is essential for effective money management, and this requires good budgeting skills. I want my son to master the art of budgeting. The goal is for him to understand the importance of conscious decision-making about the allocation of funds from his income towards savings and various types of expenses. This will help him understand exactly what he has and what he can afford.

      How do you encourage your kid to have an abundance mindset?

      Sammie: Teaching an abundance mindset is so important. It goes beyond saving and wise spending habits. The pinch-your-money attitude creates the fear that there is never enough money. As parents who are unlearning years of limiting beliefs, we are careful not to create beliefs that limit what our son feels he can strive for and attain. It all boils down to how we talk about money. For example, we try to avoid language like “we don’t have any money” or “we can’t afford it.” Instead, the conversation is focused on:

      a.) What we value as a family – “this is not what we choose to spend our money on as a family because…” or

      b.) Creating a plan/goal to achieve/obtain certain things – “This was not included in the budget for this month, but we can certainly come up with a plan to include this at a later time”. We also encourage giving and sharing. This sends the message that you have more than enough to take care of your needs as well as help with the needs of others.

      As parents who are unlearning years of limiting beliefs, we are careful not to create beliefs that limit what our son feels he can strive for and attain.
      – Sammie Fredericks

      Thank you so much Sammie for having this conversation with me!

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