Valdosta Daily Times

Business

March 3, 2013

Brittany's Budget Diary: Teaching kids about money

VALDOSTA — There are not a lot things I find exciting about a board meeting, but at last Monday's Valdosta Board of Education meeting, board member Vanassa Flucas talked about something that actually made me pretty excited —a proposed personal finance class for possibly K-12 students!

It is so wonderful to finally see our public schools take action and teach our little budge's (they will earn the 'teers when they finally get a debit card) how to budget.

The economy is in a turmoil so deep that it feels even more endless than "Message In A Bottle." It's been years since I've watched it and seriously, those are hours I will never get back, but I digress. Our future economy depends greatly on the money management of our children. If we continue and carry on the current patterns of over spending with credit cards, then we will forever be living in a world where Glenn Beck is yelling at his apocalyptic chalk board, Suze Orman is hailed as a budget goddess and credit cards have bigger balances than our savings accounts. I don't know about you, but that just makes me cringe.

After the board meeting, I began to ponder the efforts we're putting forth to help secure our children's financial future.

Sure, many of you probably have a college savings set up, but a "secure" financial future is not just about having large sums of money, it's about knowing how to manage it. Giving a kid a wad of cash and a free ride to college is like sitting a toddler in front of a bowl of chocolate and only expecting them to eat one piece. In reality, that kid is going to be chocolate wasted.

So, how do you teach your kids about money? Well, I went to the only expert worth going to. No, not myself, I mean the one and only Clark Howard.

According to him, the best thing to do in the pursuit of good money management is to be honest with your children. Kids can ask all kinds of questions: "How much do you make?" "How much does our house cost?" "How much did you pay for your car?" The T. Rowe Price Survey shows 80 percent of parents lie or evade these questions. Howard said that's a no, no. Be honest! After all, you don't want your kid growing up thinking that the stork delivered your car.

Believe it or not, your kids are watching your spending way more than you think. I grew up to be so thrifty because my mom and dad were thrifty. While living under my parent's roof, I didn't get a pair of shoes that wasn't on sale or even a snack-pack that didn't have a coupon with it. Heck, I remember even having to prioritize my 50 page Christmas lists because my parents wanted to teach me that life was about choices and that they weren't genies in a bottle. When it boils down to it, your child's financial future is incredibly dependent on your financial present.

It's not just important to teach your kids how to spend money responsibly, you need to teach them to save responsibly as well. Today, a lot of teenagers and college age adults don't save money because, like I talked about in my column about pennies, money is not hard cash anymore. It's a number somewhere in an electronic world attached to a piece of plastic. According to USA Today, you can nip that habit in the butt. When you buy snacks or toys for your kids, hand them cash and let them pay for it. Let them see how much it costs.

While I’m sure there are hundreds of things you could be doing to teach your kids about personal finance, you have to ask yourself, am I? While the schools getting involved is a great idea, history and statistics will show that ultimately, the greatest influence comes from home.

So rise up my budgeteers and bring with you your little budge’s. It’s time to take control of money and instead of working for it, make it work for you.

Don’t forget to like me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BrittanyDenneyMcClure and follow me on Twitter @VDT_Brittany.

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