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Voices of the Peninsula: Teach your kids to save

Posted: April 28, 2014 - 4:51pm

Do you want to set your kids up for future financial success? Then start now. That’s the first rule of introducing your kids to financial education — the sooner you start, the better. Money management is probably the last thing on the minds of most kids — if it even registers at all — but there are concrete steps you can take as a parent to help ensure that your children know how to think about money, including the importance of saving for the future. If you plant those seeds with care, they’ll take root, and your children will be much more likely to achieve financial success later in life.

So what lessons can we give today’s children and young adults to prepare them for financial success in the future? Today’s kids are much more likely to spend rather than save. Even parents who try to teach their children about finances, such as by giving them a regular allowance, might find their lessons overshadowed by stronger messages that come from advertising, or from children’s peers. Unfortunately, by the time most young people graduate from high school, they know all about spending and very little about saving or spending wisely.

Consider these facts:

■ American teenagers spend most of their income — about 21 percent — on clothing, followed by food (18 percent); accessories and personal care (10 percent); shoes (9 percent); car-related expenses (8 percent); electronics (8 percent); music and movies (7 percent); video games (6 percent); concerts and events (6 percent); other expenses (3 percent); books (2 percent); furniture (2 percent). (Source: Piper Jaffray, 2013)

■ Most students devote about one half or more of their earnings to discretionary spending on relatively short-term wants and needs. (Source: University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, 2014)

■ Teenagers spend about $100 billion a year, and children under 12 spend $11 billion a year, of their own money. They influence 75 percent, or approximately $165 billion, of their parents’ money. (Source: Answers.com, 2014)

This April, thousands of bankers, including many from Wells Fargo, will connect with kids in classrooms and after-school programs across the country during the annual American Bankers Association’s Teach Children to Save Day. These efforts will help young people take an important first step in mastering their financial ABCs.

Parents play a crucial role in their children’s financial success later in life. Here are five tips for parents from Wells Fargo:

1. Start early — Before they even start school, children begin to understand the process of managing money

2. Set goals — Have children write down things they want and what they cost. Teach them about making choices and saving

3. Pay a Modest Allowance — Just a small amount can help children learn

4. Make a budget — Start with three categories: spend, save, give

5. Use Free Resources — Check out your local library and the Hands on Banking website at www.handsonbanking.org for interactive lessons on saving, budgeting, credit, and more.

A tip for children ages 3-7: Take three jars and label them separately: Spend, Save, Give. Help the children split up their money into each jar and watch it grow as they save and disappear as they spend.

A tip for pre-teens, ages 8-12: Create a short-term savings box. Have the pre-teens choose something they want (a brand name pair of shoes or a video game system). They will learn the value of savings when they save enough to purchase the item.

A tip for teens, ages 13 and up: Open a savings account for long-term savings. Have teens save a certain percentage for a few years to make a bigger purchase.

Parents should ask their banker for more ideas and advice. Their child’s long-term financial security is at stake. By starting early, they can help their child develop good financial habits that will last a lifetime.

Kimberly Pierce is Wells Fargo Soldotna assistant store manager. She can be reached at 907-262-4435 ext. 230 or Kimberly.l.pierce@wellsfargo.com.

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