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Spread the Wealth

You're the first and best source to educate your kids on how to understand and manage money. Here are a few positive ways to show (and tell) your children about wise spending and smart saving.

1. You are your children's number one influence. Don't be afraid to talk about spending and saving in front of your children. Finances are one of the top sources of disagreements between couples, so show your children how you work together to manage your finances.

2. The Clear Jar. This is a simple idea that offers benefits for a lifetime. Get a clear jar and put all spare change into it at the end of the day. For preschoolers and younger children, showing them the way money grows visually is easy for them to grasp. As kids mature, everybody can contribute their coins to the jar and discuss how that money can be spent, but that it will no longer be growing if you are spending it. As children become more adult, continue to keep the jar in play. Working with your kids to save for something the family mutually decides to do together, like a mini-getaway or special dinner, or an item for the house that everybody can use.

3. Do you clip coupons, shop sales, go to off-price retailers? Share your money strategies with your children from a young age. Emphasize that it is your choice to save where you can, in order to afford your other expenses, like monthly bills, emergencies, college costs and vacations. Explain that saving in one area allows you to spend in another.

4. Money isn't everything. Help your kids understand that the amount of money they have is not relative to how successful or happy a life they will lead. Discuss money as something we all need and that can allow us to live our lives and do nice things, but that the things you personally value are equally important.

Bottom line: You begin teaching your kids about the part money plays in their lives from early on, be positive, open and balanced in your approach.