Help your child learn about money

August 06, 1999|By Lynn F. Little

Spendthrifts and tightwads are made, not born.

Children are not born with "money sense," nor do they naturally acquire the ability to use money to meet their goals.

[cont. from lifestyle]

They learn by experience and following the example of adult role models. Some adults do not feel comfortable teaching a child how to manage money because they are not "super managers" themselves.

However, you don't have to be a financial expert to help children learn and understand the concept of budgeting.

Learning how to manage money is a lifelong process.

The concept of money as a medium of exchange develops gradually.

A child progresses from viewing money as a plaything to using it to satisfy wants and needs. Most adults, whether or not they can competently handle their own financial affairs, hope their children will grow up to handle money wisely - neither spending nor hoarding too much. Money is an important part of everyone's life.


Few of us have too much of it, and most of us wish we had more. Like most important life concerns, money management does not have clear-cut answers.

Try to understand your own feelings, behaviors and values regarding money before you begin to plan money-management experiences for your children.

You communicate your values to your children, so be aware of the "money messages" you send them.

Offer simple, honest explanations about money. Children want things just as adults do. Consider the 10-year-old who wants a new bike. A positive approach is for the family to discuss and decide together where the bike fits into the family's financial priorities.

Also, what options are available to get the new bike - cutting expenses, earning additional money, using savings, buying a used bike or delaying the new bike purchase to a later date? This way the child will have a greater understanding and commitment to managing the family's money, rather than if you just said, "We can't afford a new bike."

Maryland Cooperative Extension programs are open to all citizens without regard to race, color, sex, disability, age, religion or national origin.

Lynn F. Little is a family and consumer sciences extension educator for Maryland Cooperative Extension, Washington County.

The Herald-Mail Articles