The Great Recession has been a great wakeup call for us all. Glaring headlines about unemployment rates, home foreclosures and volatile markets continue to underscore how tenuous financial security can be. As a result, your clients are no doubt feeling concern about the younger members of their families and looking for ways to communicate with them about money. They would love to instill healthy values and habits in the children they care about, but are often at a loss for how to accomplish this worthwhile goal.
The following client-centered article is provided to you as a tool to help your clients. Use it in your client newsletters or post it to your website. Feel free to use it in whole or to edit it as desired.
Kids Need Money Mentors
With the level of consumer debt skyrocketing and the cost of housing, education and health care increasing at double-digit rates, younger generations are facing unprecedented challenges to achieving economic security and financial independence. Helping our youth learn effective money management skills and adopt good financial habits and attitudes is more important than ever.
So what can you do if you are worried about the financial future of your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews? The place to start is by considering the positive influence you can have in shaping their financial well-being. Next, choose specific ways you can be a proactive money mentor in their lives. Here are suggestions and resources to get you started:
Set an Example—First and foremost, examine your money beliefs and behaviors and then take action to get your own financial life in order. An excellent handbook for reaching this goal is You and Your Money by Lois A. Vitt and Karen L. Murrell. Always remember that nothing is more effective in guiding the younger generation than providing a powerful role model.
Be Aware—Stay alert for teachable moments to share your financial expertise and wisdom. Very few topics affect us on a day-to-day basis like money, so there are endless opportunities to provide mini financial lessons via word and example. A wonderful resource for parents (and other caring adults) is The Financially Intelligent Parent: 8 Steps to Raising Successful, Generous, Responsible Children by Jon and Eileen Gallo.
Put It on the Calendar—In addition to impromptu conversations about money, William Anthes, past president of the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), recommends establishing a new tradition—family finance nights. He writes:
“The idea is for families to get together on a regular basis to talk about how money is earned, saved and spent. The financial topic du jour is up to you, but the goal is always the same: to give your children the invaluable gift of a financial education.”
For tips on establishing a regular family finance night, go to http://www.smartaboutmoney.org and download the article “Money Night with Kids Instills Smart Financial Habits.”
Use Tools—There are a number of great resources available to help make financial education fun and interesting for children. One example is the Moonjar, “a tool for children and families to incorporate strong financial values and practices into their daily lives,” according to its creator, Eulalie M. Scandiuzzi.
The Moonjar kit (www.moonjar.com) consists of three colorful moneyboxes (one each for spending, saving and sharing), a special Moonjar elastic band to hold the assembled boxes together, a passbook for deposits and withdrawals, and a family guidebook.
Lastly, Three Cups is a delightful children’s book that combines a charming story with beautiful illustrations to teach invaluable lessons about money. A “Parent’s Guide” is included in Three Cups that offers several tips about how to be an effective money mentor for the children you love.