Money in the Middle

Sandwich Generation Talking About Money Up, Down and Across Generations

Teaching Kids, and Ourselves, About Money

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Money Saving Lessons

 

The Great Recession has been a tough teacher about savings, spending and debt.  

For some of us the lessons are coming a bit late in life which means we’re scrambling to figure out how to fix up our money mistakes. (answer: work longer).  

But what about today’s kids?  Are there things we can be teaching them about money so they won’t make some of the mistakes we made?  

Today’s kids know we’re in a recession, according to a recent study by American Express. 71% of parents with children ages six to 16 say their children understand we’re in a recession.  And 91% say they are committed to instilling lessons of financial responsibility upon their children.  And probably themselves as well.  

Here are the 3 top lessons: 

  • Understanding of debt and its impact on saving and spending (30%).
  • Teaching the value of a dollar through reward systems like an allowance (25%).
  • The basic teaching of how money is earned and used in everyday life (21%).  

Good ideas all. 

But I’d add high on the list –being a role model for saving and spending.  For their financial learning but also for our own financial future.  

And that applies not just to young children, but young adults who have been brought up in a period of “see it, buy it.”  It’s a critical time for them to be establishing smart behaviors in spending and saving.  Since we anticipate the road to retirement for them will be filled with bigger tax bills and less reliance on government programs such as Social Security and Medicare.  

Indicators are that many of us are slipping back into some of our not-so-healthy spending patterns.  “Frugal fatigue” is the way one study referred to our desire to break open the wallet for some “wants” rather than just “needs.”    

And while the economy and 401(k)s are picking up many baby boomers still have a long way to go to fund a secure retirement.  

A sign of the times 

Yesterday, when I was out walking the dog (golden retriever with distinguished premature gray face), a man and his daughter stopped to ask if I would be interested in some free “senior” dog food.  Their dog had recently passed away and they had a whole new bag of food.  “Hate to throw it away,” he said.  “Just not right in these times,” he said to both his daughter and I.   We traded dog stories for a while, then off I walked wondering if that would have happened before the recession. 

So while we’re teaching our kids or grandchildren about money and value , let’s also remember to do as we teach.

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Written by Laura Rossman

March 9, 2010 at 9:32 pm

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