Are you giving your children credit cards for Christmas? You may have already begun to shop for gifts for your children and family for Christmas with the urging of colorful advertisements. Your children watched you just look at a screen and press a button and your gifts were on their way.
Are you giving your children facts about credit cards for Christmas? Are you telling them that using a credit card is really a loan against the money you have in the bank? Are you telling them that it is money you will need to pay back when you get a bill for your purchases?
Your children are never too young to learn — about money. You can teach your children between ages 3 to 5 the basic concepts of money, showing them the values of each coin and how you buy things with money.
Talk about money with your children — about how much things cost, how you are deciding to buy, and how you save money for larger purchases. Share with them that sometimes you cannot buy something because you do not have the money for it or have not saved enough. Help your children open a bank account and help them learn to budget and use money wisely. Guide them to know you cannot spend money you do not have.
Money is not an entitlement, but something you as parents have earned. As your children grow, give them opportunities to earn money by doing work for your family, not the daily or necessary chores that teach responsibility. Maybe they can wash the car or wash the dog. Babysitting or yard work might supply opportunities to earn their own money.
The habit of saving is itself an education; it fosters every virtue, teaches self-denial, cultivates the sense of order, trains to forethought and so broadens the mind. — T.T. Munger
When your children are ages 8 to 14, you might consider giving them a credit card, usually a debit card so they can see that each time they use their card it decreases the money they have saved in the bank. Some banks will allow children to have debit cards as a first step to obtaining a credit card. When your children are ready for a credit card, set limits on the amount of money they can charge.
There are programs such as Greenlight, FamZoo, and Current that will help you teach your children how to use credit. There are websites and blogs, such as creditcards.usnews.com/articles/how-to-teach-kids-to-use-credit-cards-responsibly and northwesternmutual.com/life-and-money/how-to-teach-kids-about-credit-cards.
With the holidays approaching, it is important your children understand how you use money — not to give them everything on their Christmas wish-list, but to help them decide which items they want or need most. You might even show your older children the price of the items they want and invite them to comparison shop for you and them to get the best prices.
Be aware of little expenses; a small leak can sink a great ship. — Benjamin Franklin
Budget, save, share, and spend are good lessons to teach your children.
Southern Arizona resident Bette Mroz is a former teacher, reading specialist and principal. As a mother and grandmother, she continues to help her family learn. She can be contacted at email@example.com