Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Do Your Kids Think Money Grows on Trees?

"Mommy, can I have this new Lego set?"
"You have lots of money, Dad. Can you buy me this Barbie?"
"If I had $100, I'd be rich, right, Mommy?"

Any of this sound familiar? Sadly, if you are a parent, you've probably heard a litany of these sorts of requests and comments over the years. I have found myself repeating my parents' "Money doesn't grow on trees you know!" more often than I care to admit. We are not born with an inherent sense of the value of money, so it is one of our jobs as parents to teach our kids this important lesson, to help them prepare for the future and avoid making really bad future financial decisions.  Providing them with thier own spending money through an earned allowance is one way we can help, but how far does that learning really go?

image from kozzi.com
Well, Ellen Roseman, personal finance writer with the Toronto Star, has authored an activity guide designed for 7-14 year-olds, titled, "Do You See a Money Tree?" Published by the Star, this 24 page booklet introduces kids to basic financial concepts - earning, saving, spending and investing. Activities teach them about earning interest on savings, the different types of investments, and the differences between "wants" and "needs." The section on borrowing money and credit card debt holds some important lessons that can particularly help our kids to avoid poor financial decisions in the future.

I think my favourite activity might be the budgeting section. The reader is given a monthly budget of $100 along with a list of expenses. The object is to fit all these expenses into the budget, while also thinking about whether each item is a need or a want. This is followed up with a comparative activity asking kids to consider the different costs of watching a movie at home vs. going to a theatre. Eye-opening!

Many of the activities in the book can be done without extra resources, but some require a bit of reading and research, for instance in the local newspaper. These particular activities might be a bit advanced for the younger set, but certainly would be a good learning experience for the tweens and young teens. The booklet ends with a "Fun & Games" section, including a financially related word scramble, crossword & true-or-false quiz. It also includes a glossary to help with some of the more technical financial terms.
Do your kids think money grows on trees? Would you like to try out this activity guide with them?

The Giveaway
The Toronto Star is giving away 5 copies of "Do You See A Money Tree?" to Raising My Boys readers to give you the inside scoop on teaching your kids the art of saving their money!

To Enter
Please leave a comment below with your best tip for teaching kids the value of money.

The Fine Print
Contest is open to Canadian residents only.
Contest closes Friday, September 2, at 12:00 midnight, EDT
5 winners will be chosen from among all eligible entries using random.org
Winners will be contacted by email and will have 48 hours to respond with their mailing address for prize delivery. (Be sure to include your email address so I can reach you!)

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