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Even 4th-graders can help economy

Teaching Your Child

Teaching Your Child

January 30, 2009|By LISA TEDRICK PREJEAN

"So, Mom, I've been hearing a lot recently about the economy. What exactly do people mean when they use that word? What is our economy?" my daughter asked as we were talking after dinner a few nights ago.

How do you explain the economy to a 10-year-old? I used simple terms and examples she could understand.

I told her that when people talk about our economy, they are referring to how much money is flowing among groups of people. People who are earning money from the jobs they have spend that money for goods and services, which helps the people who are offering those goods and services.

If lots of people lose their jobs or if numerous businesses close because consumers aren't buying their goods and services, money stops flowing, and that's not good for the economy. It's especially not good for the people directly affected by job losses or business closings.

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It's important that people don't overspend or buy things they can't afford because they will go into debt. They also could lose their houses or cars if the people they owe money claim those items to recover what the borrower owes.

At the same time, it's important for businesses to not overcharge for goods or services because people might choose to spend their money elsewhere so they can buy more with less. If consumers are consistently selecting other businesses, the business that is not attracting customers will be forced to close due to a lack of sales.

Because many jobs are being lost and businesses are closing, our economy's present state is not considered good.

That answer seemed to satisfy my daughter, at least until the following day. She was reading the paper over my shoulder when an editorial cartoon caught her eye. She pointed and asked, "Mom, what is this word?"

"Stimulus," I replied.

"What does that mean?" she asked.

I told her that a stimulus provides the needed push to start something. In this case, the hope is that the right stimulus will help our economy. If people have extra money to spend, perhaps they could help struggling businesses stay afloat. If businesses succeed, they can offer more jobs and give raises to their existing employees. By hiring more people and providing a better income to others, thriving businesses help our economy. People who have steady jobs can help the economy because they can put more money back into it.

Our new president has plans to help the economy. It's too early to know if his plans will succeed, but I hope he makes the choices that will help create a stronger economy across the board for all Americans.

However, until things get better, we can do our part to use our money wisely.

My daughter wanted to know how she could help the economy. What can a fourth-grader do?

She can continue packing her lunch on most days. Ordering lunch each day is expensive and takes away from the family's other needs.

She can remember to close outside doors tightly when she comes in from playing so heat does not escape.

She can remember to turn off lights when she leaves a room so electricity is not wasted.

She can take care of her belongings so they last longer.

Those suggestions seem minor, but if every person does what he can to watch his cash flow, the economy will improve.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean's column, Teaching Your Child, appears Fridays in The Herald-Mail.

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