Back-To-School Shopping Can Lead To Valuable Budgeting Lessons
The kids are out of school, which makes it the perfect time to teach them a thing or two about money management. NY1's Money Matters reporter Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
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Parents, never mind the birds and bees. The talk you really need to be having with your kids is about dollars and cents — and what better time to start that conversation than during the back-to-school shopping season?
Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz, a father of two, says the financial lessons plan should start as early as pre-K.
"It's great to start to talk to young kids, for example, about the difference between something they may want for school and something they may really need for school. That's the early essence of budgeting," says Mintz.
As they get older, start to put those theories to practical use. Children between the ages of six and 11 should be given a budget and an assignment.
"Maybe you say to them, 'I'm going to put you in charge of getting pencils and pens and crayons and here's $5 or $10.' It's a great way for kids to learn that you need to make choices," Mintz says.
Those choices will likely get more expensive as kids hit their tweens, making that a perfect age to broaden the budgeting lesson plan.
"Sit down with them and give them a budget. This is how much we have to spend, are you spending $200 of that money on sneakers?" says Trae Bodge, a senior writer for The RetailMeNot Insider. "That leaves you much less to spend on your other necessities."
Mintz also suggests having a child save up money to buy something he or she wants. This both introduces the concept of saving into the curriculum and helps develop the discipline to resist unnecessary spending.
"Sometimes there will be an impulse purchase and a great response is to say, 'If you want to spend your own money on that, that's fine,'" says Mintz. "Suddenly that lip gloss isn't as crucial."
Finally, before a teenager graduates to a credit card of his or her own, use a joint shopping venture for instructions on Credit 101. The syllabus should cover everything including what interest is and how it can add up.
"How do you budget to be able to make your payments? How do you keep track over the course of a week or a month that when you are using a credit card? Are you really going to be able to pay that off a the end of each month? That kind of fiscal discipline is really important," Mintz says.