By Steve Rosen
Jan. 17, 2023
My columns on motivating kids to learn their financial ABCs generated lots of advice from readers over the past year.
Their input covered everything from how to deal with difficult money questions, the need for more financial education in classrooms, being aware of identity scams, tackling knotty ethical issues and much more.
Here’s a sampling:
“Here’s what we did from the time our kids were in elementary school up to today,” wrote Sharon Kaczmarek. “When eating out at a restaurant, before reviewing the bill, everyone guessed the total. The winner — the person closest to the total — got to take the charge card folder and give it to the server when younger. Now we all just guess.”
“The purpose,” she said, “was to reinforce the cost of eating out for a family of five versus sharing a meal at home, as well as the trade-off of eating out over other entertainment options. My now adult kids all remember to say thank you when dining out.”
Martha Clarkson wrote: “When I was 10 — a long time ago — I asked my mother if we were rich. She replied, ‘We are comfortable.’ ”
“I thought it was a perfect reply,” Clarkson said. “We were just an average middle-class family.”
Pat Roberts addressed the same issue — but with a bit of a twist: “A friend of mine was recently telling me about her granddaughter who asked her if she and grandpa were rich. She said she started to tell her that no they weren’t rich (but actually they are multimillionaires), but then she thought about it and said, yes they were rich.”
“They were rich in that they had two wonderful sons and delightful grandchildren, good health … Her granddaughter looked at her and said, ‘Grandma, I think I would rather be the other kind of rich!’”
As an advocate for the importance of teaching children to be aware of all things money, I’m always encouraged by success stories like these from parents and grandparents who have taken advantage of everyday opportunities to preach money management. You never know what a simple conversation might spark in a youngster of any age.
That’s all the more important these days with all the inflation and COVID-related money stressors facing households.
In a survey in mid-December by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the federal agency found that nearly 40% of households could not cover expenses for longer than a month — even with dipping into savings, borrowing money, selling assets and seeking help from family and friends. To me, the findings reinforced the need for being financially prepared in good and bad times. No small challenge.
On the plus side, several surveys this year showed that money was near the top of the list among discussion topics between parents and kids.
David Stone said more high schools should teach finance as part of the curriculum. “High school should prepare kids for the real world,” Stone wrote.
Finally, some post-holiday etiquette advice from Mark Madler: “My two daughters are now 27 and 20, but we always had them write thank you notes for Christmas, birthdays and graduations,” Madler wrote.
“In my role as an engineering manager, I have also told my daughters thank you notes, even emails, are a note of professionalism that can set you apart when you thank an interviewer after an interview.”
Thank you for the inspiring thoughts, and keep those letters and emails coming.
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