5 Tips for Raising Money Smart Kids

  1. Remember that experience is better than lecturing.  When your kids are ready to learn about money, start letting them make some financial decisions.  It might be as basic as choosing between an ice cream treat and a soda, but let them decide and let them know it’s about deciding what to get, not getting everything they want.
  2. Start younger than you think you should.  Many kids in pre-school can make the ice cream vs soda decision.  Elementary school kids can have an allowance that let’s them buy some things that you used to buy for them.  In late middle school kids can start managing a budget to buy their own clothes.
  3. Lay out boundaries up front.  Let them know what they are not allowed to buy – clothes displaying profanity, dangerous objects like knives, whatever you decide is inappropriate for your family and their age.  Let them know they’re welcome to check with you if they wonder if a purchase is acceptable.  And let them know that if they buy something they shouldn’t, they either have to return the purchase for a refund or give the poor purchase to you for no refund.
  4. Let them be themselves.  They might spend money on things you would never want, but it’s what they want and let’s them start developing their own money personality and skills. 
  5. No bailouts!  If kids make bad choices, express your compassion for the error, ask how they might handle the situation differently in the future, and let them deal with the outcome.  Don’t give them money to recover their loss.  We all learn from our mistakes.  And if you bailout your kids from their financial mishaps, they learn that mistakes aren’t a problem, because you’ll always rescue them.  That’s a very expensive life lesson for them and for you. 

Being a Single Mom and Financially Sound in 2008

If you are a newly single parent, this time of year is a good one to get a grip on your financial situation.  Here are a few tips to get you started.


First, know that you can be in charge of your own situation.  Feel free to get help from professionals, but don’t assume that you can’t be financially sound if your co-parent used to handle all the money or even if he made all the money.


Next, figure out what you spend.  Do some detailed listings of what you’ve spent in the past year.  See what you must spend and what you could do without.  Don’t hold on to lots of financial ideas for the wrong reason.  If an expensive coffee every day is how you show your status to your co-workers, be willing to let go of it.  Also, be sure you are saving every month.  Ideally, save 10% of what you make.  If you can’t save that now, start with as much as you can save and build it up over time.


Don’t burden your kids with financial worries, but don’t hesitate to let them have a voice in family finances.  If you need to eat at home more, let them help you plan menus, clip coupons,  and get meals prepared – or at least set the table.  Whatever you do, don’t badmouth their dad about money or any thing else. 


In addition to seeing what you need to spend.  Don’t hesitate to look for a better paying job.  There are two ways to approach a budget crunch – spend less or make more.  If you do both, you can really better your situation! 

Navigating Stormy Financial Waters after Divorce

In a divorce, there can be countless issues to deal with.  Parenting after the divorce, where to live, what friends side with which spouse, emotional turmoil with blame, guilt, fear and a sense of loss.  And, of course, there’s the financial change.  How each person deals with this is individual.  And one of the first financial steps to take is to assume you’ll be all right.  That might not sound like very sound or complex financial advice.  But as a financial planner who deals with a lot of people during and after divorce, I can tell you that the people who assume they’ll make things work financially are right.  The ones who assume things will only get worse after the divorce are right, too.  Pretty early in many of the professional relationships I have I can tell which one of these mindsets the client is likely to fall into.  I can help them get out of the “I got the shaft here!” frame of mind, but I can’t do it for them.  They have to change their outlook and do something about bettering their situation.  So decide right now if someone else is going to control your financial destiny or if you’re going to take control.  You’re entitled to it!  Just think what a wonderful lesson you’ll teach your children.  You and they will be better for it.