August can be a frantic time for parents – trying to organize the last few weeks of summer vacation, getting kids to complete summer assignments, and shopping for back to school. This year’s shopping will be more challenging because of the economic issues.
Back-to-school shopping is an excellent opportunity for parents to teach financial lessons to their children.
Many studies show that most college graduates have no idea how to handle money, and there are few financial education courses offered in schools, so it is left up to parents.
From the time when he was in daycare, my son had his own style. He knew what he liked, and he was not going to wear anything that did fit his style. It was not worth fighting with him, so he wore what suited him. My husband and I started teaching him some financial lessons while he was still in grade school and shopping for back-to-school clothing offered several great speeches.
Together we determined his needs, decided on a budget, and chose where to shop by looking at store circulars and stores online. With the list in hand, we’d go shopping. He selected what he wanted and calculated the cost before going to the register using the round-up to the nearest dollar method. He did not have to worry about tax because our state does not have a tax on clothing. We always used cash so he could pay for his purchase and check the change he got back.
Over the years, he learned to prioritize his list because once the money was gone, we were done unless he wanted to spend his money. We also thought it was vital for him to understand the difference between “want” and “need,” so we threw in a caveat – any money left over after he got everything on the list was his to spend as he wanted. Trust me; our son has become a savvy shopper! We shopped at outlets, discount stores, and thrift shops. We offered our opinions, but ultimately, he decided how to spend the money.
These are lessons he still uses today as an “adult,” creating and prioritizing a list of necessary items, creating a budget, smart shopping, and operating cash, not credit. Parents have many responsibilities, but ensuring our kids are financially savvy is vital for their independence.
Michele Hewitt-Webster is one of the founding members of MileStone Academy and the owner of US2 Training. Michele believes in helping people achieve their goals by giving them the strategies and tools to succeed.
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