By Sarah Pipher

As parents, it’s our responsibility to shape our children into good people and valuable members of society. From an early age, we teach children important lessons about the Golden Rule, respect, manners, telling the truth, and how to share. But, what about money? When should kids learn about saving vs. spending and wants vs. needs?
“Children as young as 3 years old can grasp financial concepts like saving and spending,” Beth Koblinger, author of “Get a Financial Life,” tells Forbes.com. It’s never too early to positively influence your children’s financial behaviors with the following lessons.

Deferred Gratification
Once your children understand transactions and the exchange of money for goods, teach them the value of deferred gratification. Learning to delay gratification can set your child up for success as a grown-up. An experiment conducted at Stanford studied different sets of children who were all given a choice — they could have a single sweet right away or wait 15 minutes and have two. Some children waited and others ate a sweet as soon as the researchers walked out. Children who were better at delaying gratification at a young age tended to have better life outcomes, including higher SAT scores and healthier BMI (body mass index). Teach your children how to “wait for the candy now” in order to have a better payoff later on or overall. You’ll prepare them for the tougher decisions later in life, whether to splurge on the designer purse or pay a monthly student loan bill, for example.

The Fun of Saving
Introduce the concept of saving with a piggy bank. Make it a fun experience by decorating and personalizing the piggy bank. Encourage them to love dropping dollar bills into the bank or hearing the sound of coins dropping to the bottom. Upgrade their savings and open a savings account as they get older. Every time they put money from their allowance or job (for teenagers) into their savings, match those funds to encourage them to save more and develop long-term healthy financial habits.
Also, help your kids learn to prioritize their wants and needs. Remember to guide them toward building decision-making skills, rather than controlling the experience. Allow them to make mistakes and discuss what would have been a better alternative. Teaching your children how to identify what to purchase and why will be a skill that they will carry throughout life.

First Credit Card Experience
Credit cards can be financial risks and a gateway into lifelong debt. But you can help you teen learn how to responsibly pay with a credit card by owning one together. Go through the entire process as a team, from choosing an appropriate card and signing up to paying off the balance in full each month. You can add them to your account as an authorized user or open a new account for them. Monitor their credit card information, both online and off. Review how checking credit reports and not sharing credit card numbers with anyone can prevent major threats like identity theft. Teaching your children about the value of a dollar and teens about credit card responsibility may even help renew your own financial habits into healthier ones.
One of the most difficult things for families to talk about is money.

DoughMain’s free family financial management and organization tools help busy parents teach their kids about money and responsibility. Visit www.DoughMain.com to get started.

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