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On Parenting
Posted at 12:33 PM ET, 08/17/2011

The bad economy as an opportunity to teach kids about money

There aren’t many upsides to the economic gloom. Financial education expert Afarin Homer has rooted out one: It’s a great opportunity for parents to impart financial wisdom.

“With the current economic crisis affecting every family in some form or another, now is the perfect time for parents to start talking to children about money management and financial responsibility,” Homer wrote to me when I asked her how parents might explain the headlines to their kids.

Homer is executive director of the Youth Leadership Training Academy, which runs after-school financial literacy programs in the region. This fall, the academy is offering a weekend course at Montgomery County College for sixth- to eighth-graders.

Her advice is deceptively simple. “Parents should explain the truth about our economy to them — when less money is available, everyone has to be more careful with spending.”

The troubled jobs market and tumultuous stock market have affected so many homes, but many parents wait until the evenings to work out the bills and postpone financial summits until after the kids in bed. Most of us believe that we are shielding our children from unnecessary stresses.

It’s easy to forget that this shielding can also leave them oblivious to how money is earned and saved. It’s usually only the spending part they see clearly.

Homer suggests one excellent way to teach children how to take part in the new family effort is to encourage them to come up with cost-cutting ideas. “For example, children can learn to turn off lights, fans, and computers when they are not in use and only buy the things that they truly need.”

Are you talking with your kids about the new financial realities? How do you teach them about economic problems on a global level and on a personal level?

By  |  12:33 PM ET, 08/17/2011

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