There’s a lot parents can do before sending their kids off to school this fall. A recent survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling found that 44 percent of respondents said they learned the most about money from their parents. Here are five important money lessons that your children probably won’t learn in the classroom:
• You can’t buy everything you want. Take photos of not-quite-necessary back-to-school items your child wants instead of buying them. Then, if they still seem necessary a couple of weeks later, they can go in the shopping cart.
• Skipping one purchase allows you to save for another. Instead of buying items for children, give them the cash and let them decide whether to spend or to save. When shopping for back-to-school items, older children can use their allowance or earnings to pay for certain items.
Susan Beacham, creator of the Money Savvy piggy bank, says she would give her children money for soda on vacation and let them decide whether to buy the soda or save the money for later. They almost always decided to save it.
• Keep your information private. Eleven- to 13-year-olds are ready to learn the basics of identity security: Never answer emails from strangers, don’t click on pop-up ads and don’t share Social Security numbers or other personal information online. Parents can explain these principles just as they explain how to avoid strangers in public places.
• It’s OK to make mistakes. Lewis Mandell, a finance professor at the University of Washington, says allowing children to experiment and make mistakes can provide more useful lessons than anything taught in school. He encouraged his daughter to invest as a teenager; she learned how to diversify after losing money in Pepsi stock.
• Avoid debt, and forget trying to “keep up with the Joneses.” Thanks to social networking sites, it’s easier than ever to compare your own material wealth to those of peers. Talking about how to avoid those kinds of comparisons, and the debt that can easily follow any attempts to keep up, can help minimize impulse purchases.
Kids might be getting more money lessons in the classroom, but they still look to their parents for their primary financial education.
Information from Kimberly Palmer, Aug. 22, 2012, Copyright 2014© U.S. News & World Report LP, provided by Cari Wilson, Cornerstone Community Credit Union, 414 61st St., Des Moines, 274-1460.