By Franciso Colayco
There are so many things we want to teach our child first like reading, writing, counting, sports, but as Evonne Lack and Sam Renick, authors of “Top 7 Ways to Raise a Money-Smart Kid” share, “Kids are constantly being bombarded with messages to spend money, and we need to counteract that. The earlier kids start developing good money habits, the better.”
She provides us “seven tricks to turn money lessons from a fight into a delight.” Her tricks are really for the American environment but I’d like to translate them to the local Filipino environment.
Hand your preschooler a buck.
In peso terms, a buck is about P45. For our Filipino preschool kid 3-4year old, I would start with a P20 bill and P10, P5, P1 and 25-centavo coins. Even if your child cannot yet understand the value of each bill or coin, it is making him familiar in the same way that you show letters or numbers to him even if he doesn’t understand it as a start to learning how to read.
Dispose of “disposable thinking.
Evonne Lack says: “From broken toys to outdated TVs, almost everything gets tossed in our culture. By teaching your child the value of things, you set a cornerstone of financial literacy.”
Kids can learn that possessions deserve our care. If something does break and your child cavalierly says, “It’s okay, we can just get another one,” take advantage of the teachable moment. Gently explain that replacing it would cost money, and that you’ll need to decide whether spending that money is a good idea.
Encourage delayed gratification.
Don’t immediately give your child what he asks for. Teach him to wait and for special “wants”, suggest that he put it in his birthday or Christmas “wish list.
As they grow older and have learned to delay their gratification, you can start teaching them to save for things they want. You can teach them to put aside part of their allowance or do extra chores to have more money and then match or double their savings.
Table the taboo.
Children are smarter than you think and many experts say that kids benefit when they are part of family discussion on money. With the use of ATM and credit cards, kids could easily assume that money will never run out because you can get it from machines and signatures. Keep things cool and casual, and don’t push the point.
Be a role model.
We all see how many children follow their parent’s footsteps. The same happens with money. As Lack says, “What you do will have a much greater effect on your kids than what you say. If you want your child to learn to save, make sure you’re saving some money yourself – and that your child knows you do it.”
Let them practice.
Learning good money management takes practice. So invest in a little play money (or make some!) for your preschooler so that she can play “store” with you, and consider giving your big kid an allowance.
Skip the lecture – tell a story instead.
Give a lecture on responsible spending, and you’ll get a glassy-eyed stare. But tell a story about a boy who must decide between buying lunch and buying a new action figure, and you’ll likely get rapt attention.