By Debra Levey Larson
Media/Communications Specialist, University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
URBANA, Ill. — Summertime offers children and teens opportunities to make money, making it an excellent time for parents to help them develop money management skills.
University of Illinois Extension consumer economics educator Kathy Sweedler explained: “Lawn mowing, pet-sitting, lemonade stands and other summer jobs can definitely help children to become more responsible and build self-confidence. The money they earn by doing those jobs can provide opportunities for parents to teach them how to manage it, maybe even open their first savings account.”
Sweedler says in developing the ability to save money, much like other skills in life, practice makes perfect.
“Do your children have an opportunity to earn money and then decide how to spend or save it? As parents, we can help provide these decision-making opportunities,” Sweedler explained.
“Giving your child an opportunity to save money toward something he or she wants is a terrific learning experience and helps develop the saving habit early in life,” Sweedler added. “A research study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh found that children who have their own savings accounts when young are likely to continue saving in later life.”
The President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability is concerned with helping children become financially savvy consumers as adults and has developed a website called Money as You Grow, which can be found at moneyasyougrow.org.
“I like the information on the website because it outlines some of the financial concepts that children can learn at age-appropriate times,” said Sweedler. “For example, a 5-year-old can learn that you may have to wait before you can buy something you want. By age 13, the money lesson may be that you should save at least a dime for every dollar you earn.”
The website also has suggested activities and resources for families.
“As you talk to your children about money, remember that children develop at their own pace, and the activities designed for certain ages are intended as guidelines,” said Sweedler.
Sweedler also recommended two helpful books about money that parents can share with their children.
“A Chair for My Mother, by Vera B. Williams, is a wonderful, warm story about a family working together towards a shared financial goal,” said Sweedler. “Lunch Money, by Andrew Clements, is geared towards older elementary- or middle-school readers and features two enterprising youths.”
Sweedler offers more financial tips via Twitter at @morethancoupons or on her blog, at www.extension.illinois.edu/go/RetireWell.
From the July 4-10, 2012, issue