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COLUMN: Teach your children about money

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By Theresa Howard

 Parents are important role models for children of all ages and communicating family needs and values to all family members is important. Children are sometimes left out of financial conversations, but because family finances affect them, it’s important to involve them as early as possible. These conversations also teach children responsibility and decision-making, important concepts to which they need to be exposed.

To begin your child’s financial literacy, explain topics such as paying bills on a monthly schedule, the importance of saving, and how the banking system and credit work. Tailor this information to your child’s age and comprehension level. Give financial lessons when they make sense, for instance, as you drive to the bank or sit down to pay monthly bills. Allow young children to handle money, whether wrapping accumulated coins or handing money to a clerk or bank teller. Physical contact with money is a powerful learning lesson; activities handling cold hard cash provide a framework and a practical application that helps them absorb information.

Younger children obviously have to go along with decisions made by their parents, but as they grow older, they will have their own opinions, such as how to spend a vacation, or even where to spend long weekends or major holidays. For older children and teens, the back-to-school season or holiday shopping time opens conversations about decision-making, budgeting and spending for school supplies and clothing. Use this as an opportunity to discuss needs versus wants.  

Piggy Bank Design Contest

To get youth thinking about the topic of saving money, this fall the Extension Service sponsored a 2nd annual Piggy Bank Design Contest for kids up to age 18. Fort Knox Federal Credit Union offered cash prizes for our winners. The county winning design will go on to a regional contest this winter.