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Appreciate the Little Savings

Thanksgiving has made the month of November synonymous with gratitude. But the practice of gratitude can teach kids valuable lessons all year long. Which includes some important lessons about spending and saving.

Getting into the gratitude game is free, easy and available 24/7. It's putting the focus on noticing things you already have, instead of things you don't have. It's a winning proposition! Teaching kids how to be thankful can help them tame the "But I want'," "I need," "I have to have" list. The act of being thankful can help shift a child's head into a "Hey, look what I do have," frame of mind. A good conversation about how we spend money can follow and become an ongoing discussion.

Here are some simple, yet powerful ways to get your kids into the attitude of gratitude:

The Captive Audience. Dinner, bedtime or car rides give you a perfect entrée to do a quick appreciation check-in. Get in the habit of asking your kids what they were most thankful for during their day. Make the connection when they're grateful for something that didn't cost money, such as a sunset, a walk, or a game with a friend.

Help your kids start a gratitude journal. It can be a fancy hardbound notebook or a simple deck of index cards. Ask them to write one thing in it daily. We're talking everything from, "I loved playing in the snow today," to "I am lucky I have sneakers to wear." It's the habit of noticing you're trying to instill.

Have kids personalize slips of paper so Thanksgiving guests can write what they're grateful for. Read and discuss. Shows kids that everybody has something to add to the conversation.

Make gratitude part of everyday life. When something good happens, especially those things that are low cost, or cost nothing at all, point it out to your kids. This teaches them of the many experiences in the world that have nothing to do with dollars and cents, but that can enrich their lives. Conversely, point out the things they're grateful for that do cost money, which can lead to a healthy conversation about what is worthy of spending on and what is not.

Bottom line: Teaching kids about non-material values can help them learn how to spend and save.