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Marion Syversen Marion Syversen
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Money and kids starting the conversation

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Many of us, if we even think to, hesitate when it comes to teaching our kids much about money. For one thing, there are some of us who do not feel well-versed enough about the topic. 

Then there's the pesky problem of where the heck to start the conversation. All we know is we are always arguing with someone about why they can't have this or that, why they can't go to this cool vacation spot or why on earth we won't let them eat out more.

Geek that I am, I like finance. And I am drawn to books, games and creative ways to teach us all more about the financial topics we tend to avoid. So when I saw a coloring book on money for kids, I thought, that's a fun way to learn. But some of the topics were even more awesome. Give them some yummy finance instruction in the practical everyday world that you understand. Let them in with these simple questions. 

Kids want to be adults. They want to grow up, they want to drive, they want to imitate you in so many things. So give them a taste of real life by walking through these questions with your kids or the kids you influence. Since these ideas came from a coloring book you can make the discussion be as simple or as complex as the maturity of the child allows. But just start the conversation. 

Question #1 What is money?  If it doesn't grow on trees, what is it? Its purpose is for trade. Why would we use coins instead of rocks for trade? What has been used in the past by different cultures? What about what we use now? Our money is printed at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, D.C. Coins are produced by the US Mint. Whose pictures are on the coins and bills? What do the symbols represent? 

Question #2 How do we receive money?  Where does money come from? In their life or yours, how do you get money? For kids, money may come to them from gifts, perhaps an allowance or a job.  Sometimes we find it in the couch. If you want more money, what might you do? What do grownups do when they want more money? You could talk about various kinds of jobs, why some professions have higher pay than others.  

Question #3 How do people spend money?- Money is spent on needs and wants, on goods and services. But every time you spend money on one thing, your forgo money's use on another thing. This is called opportunity cost. An example of grown-up opportunity cost might be buying a nice house, which means now the family eats out less. For your child, an example of opportunity cost might be that you buy a toy for yourself and then don't have the money for a friend's birthday party present. You can see that even in simple terms, this could open up quite a discussion.

Question #4 What are my money options?  When you have money, you can spend it, save it or invest it. What do all those things mean? When you save money at a financial institution, the financial institution then lends money to folks starting businesses in the community or people buying houses or cars. Your money is safe but is put to work making more money. If you have a saving account, how can you get your money back out? There are checks and debit cards. You can see your account online. How does someone apply for a loan? Depending on the child's age and maturity level you could teach a lot of great info just following these questions.

Question #5 What is, and why should I have, a budget?  Can I have all the things that I want, and can I afford all the fun things that I want to do, with a limited amount of money? How do I do figure out what I can afford to doWhat are the options inside of my budget? An example: You can wait and save. You could be frugal and get more for less. You could make more money.

A number of surveys indicate that we don't understand the subject of money very well, so we don't teach our kids. You can see that you do know a lot of this information and you can pass this knowledge onto your kidlets. 

You can make this as easy to grasp, or as detailed and nuanced, as your imagination takes you. You can have field trips or ask friends who work in different fields to chat with the kids. Make it fun. Make it practical. Just make sure you do it so your kids learn about money.


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