Over the last 42 months, I have had the privilege of talking with you about how to talk to your kids about money. By now, anyone who has read this column even a few times knows that I preach the power of teaching your children they have four choices for money—save, spend, donate and invest—and how powerful it is to show them how to set goals for those choices. This lesson alone will teach them how to delay gratification and control impulses long enough to reflect and think through money decisions.
In 2006, I wrote a series that addressed each money choice in detail. I encourage you to re-read—or read for the first time—this series, which ran February through July. If you are just starting to think about what your children will need to know to survive and thrive in the complex world of money, start with that series. It holds basic wisdom that will get you started in the right direction.
The most popular money issue I have written about is allowance. Dear readers, you have never been able to get enough on that topic. The Chicago Parent archives hold a number of columns on allowance that deliver timeless advice. Read them. They are there to help you as you think about starting an allowance for your child.
Smart and savvy kids were the topic of many of my columns. My friend Marty’s sons, Peter and Ben, showed us all how kids are born givers (June 2006). With the permission of their local grocery store manager, the boys set up collection boxes in front of the store and asked patrons to "Pause for a Cause" and consider donating cat toys and food for a shelter that rescued cats and kept them until they were adopted.
Luke Donavan in "Oh say can you CD?" made us all smile as we read about how excited this 13-year-old was to open his first Certificate of Deposit. "You have no idea how good it feels," Luke said. "Why?" I asked. "Well, at first when you take your money out of savings and put it in a CD, you kind of feel like the money is disappearing since you can’t take it out and spend it. But then, you feel pretty good because you know that when the three months are up, you’ll have more money than if you just left it in the savings account." To this day, he continues to renew that CD and has still not touched the money.
In July 2007, "Launch your child into business" introduced us to Tate Wuerta and Kyle Lucki as examples of my belief that kids are natural entrepreneurs. The boys dressed up in suits and ties to stand on the corner and sell their "Best Dressed" lemonade. The dressing up part worked and netted the boys a cool $200 in about four hours.
Much to my daughters’ collective chagrin, I have used them and their money journeys as the basis of many a column. Allison and Amanda have gotten their first allowance, checking account, debit card and now job while I have been writing this column. Allison, now 16, is working at our local shoe store. When she received her first paycheck, we showed her how to check to be sure she was paid accurately and then walked her through "taxes," a cut into her pay that stunned her.
The column that was the most personal to me and my money journey was one I wrote in June 2005. "Get financially healthy before a crisis hits" was written several months after I was diagnosed with cancer—something that I am now blessed to say I no longer have. Please go back one more time to the archives online and look this column up. Get your money house in order now, while you are feeling strong and invincible.
Thank you for allowing me to talk to you through these columns about my mission to reach and teach young children about the money choices in their lives. The e-mails you sent show me that I have been heard.
I wonder what the next big money milestone will be at my house—a car and car insurance? College? First apartment? I’ve started a blog at www.susanbeacham.com that will talk about those challenges and how we all fare at handling them. If you do stop by, let me know. It will be good to keep in touch.
Susan Beacham is the founder and CEO of Money Savvy Generation, a financial education company that provides innovative products and services to help parents and educators teach children the basic skills of personal finance, www.MoneySavvyGeneration.com. E-mail her at susan@MSGEN.com.