Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Use Everyday Life Examples To Teach Money Matters

Tip #261 - Use Everyday Life Examples to Teach Money Matters. As many of us struggle with our finances, we try to learn all that we can from those of us who are more knowledgeable than we are in this area. Perhaps we stop to think about what went wrong on our financial journey. Did our parents handle their finances responsibly? Did their parents? Were we taught how to manage our finances properly? How can we do better?

And for those of who are parents, we think about what we can do differently so that our children do not struggle with money as they get older. We hope that as they age that they do not get themselves deep into debt. We want them to be responsible and knowledgeable about finances. What is one way of teaching our children about money and finances if we are not that educated about it ourselves?

One way to get your children’s attention about money is to use real-life examples that they are interested in. Perhaps your son has a collection of some sort. You can talk to him about value and how it goes up and down depending on demand for it. You can look up value on eBay and discuss the possibility of selling his collection when he outgrows it. You can talk about different sales venues and which one reaches the most customers and would garner the highest price. Then discuss sales commission and how that decreases the bottom line.

For younger children, you can teach them to save for a toy that they would like to buy. Perhaps teaching them that 8 weeks’ worth of allowances will get them the toy or 6 times of helping you unload the dishwasher will make them enough money for that toy. Help them look through different toy catalogs, online, or in person to find the best price for the toy. If you buy in person, have them pay the cashier with their own money and perhaps get change.

Maybe your college age daughter wants to move out on her own. You can look up rents in newspapers online. You can go to the grocery store and discuss what a weekly grocery bill would look like. Make a list of other bills people pay when they live on their own.

You don’t need to know about stocks and bonds, interest rates and dividends to start your discussion about finances. Financial matters involves managing your money as well as trying to invest and earn money. Use the knowledge that you know to impart on your children.

In Real Life (IRL) – I remember back in the late 1980’s when the Billy Joel song “We didn’t Start The Fire” came out. It was a big hit and had lots of historical references sung very fast. Teens were interested in that song. And I remember hearing about some creative teachers who took that song and analyzed the lyrics line by line with their class rather than ban the music (on our Walkmans, I’m sure) from school. What a great way to get children to learn. Take what they are interested in and have them learn from that.

The teacher using that song to teach history got me thinking about the latest fad - Silly Bandz. When they first became popular around here I heard that they were being banned in school. They said children were paying too much attention to them rather than their studies. They were trading them in the classroom and playing with them on their wrists. I thought about this very popular fad and remembered that Billy Joel song and thought, “Why not use the Silly Bandz to teach a lesson?” Why ban them? Take advantage of them.

For younger children, the trading of Silly Bandz would make a great topic of worth. One phoenix (a “rare” band, according to my 2nd grader) is worth a cat and dog, for example. Tie this in to money topics. Two nickels are worth a dime. For older children enthralled by Silly Bandz, the topic of entrepreneurship can be discussed. Who came up with this idea? How did they market it? What do they think they can create that would become popular?

Now I know schools have their own agenda and maybe these discussions were not on the itinerary, but clearly something that captivates the children would be a great tool to teach concepts about finances. If your school isn’t taking advantage of kids’ interest in their Silly Bandz, then why not do it at home? Use their fascination with a topic to get your children more interested in and knowledgeable about financial topics. What better way to teach? For other financial ideas, check out Life As Mom.


Anonymous said...

i'm new to your site. and very interested in learning about where to put my retirement fund money. how often do you post? seeems like the last one was a week ago . do you only post once a week? any suggested reading material?

Michele said...

I have only been posting about once per week lately, although I used to post more frequently. I've done several posts on retirement. Look at my tags and you can find them. In genteral, 401(k) and IRAs are the best place to invest retirement money because of the tax benefits. Depending on your age, the amount of risk you undertake would vary. Generally, the closer you are to retirement, the less risk you should undertake. If you are looking into mutual funds, I like Vanguard because of the low expense fees. But of course, there are funds with a wide range of risks even within Vanguard (or any other mutual fund company). Let me know if you have any specific questions. But, I am not a financial advisor nor trained as such. Thanks for reading my blog!

Melissa said...

These are all great ideas! Just yesterday I was thinking about one way I taught my son that money isn't an unlimited resource. I took ten cards and said, "This is what we have." Then we started deducting for the house payment, electric bill, groceries, etc., until we had about two cards left. Now ... we have five things we WANT to spend these on, but only enough money for two: what's most important? He really seemed to understand the concept.