By Phyllis Schoenholz, Extension Educator
UN-L Cooperative Extension in Southern Plains Unit
Children are not born with “money sense.” They learn about money by example and experience, beginning at a very young age. Parents are an important influence on what and how children learn about money.
Much of what your children learn about money is not from the conscious efforts you make to teach money management. Children are great imitators and pick up your values, attitudes, and money habits by watching and listening to you. In fact, you do not have to say anything to pass along money attitudes, habits, or decision-making styles.
If you shop with a list, your children will probably shop with a list. If you always spend money before it is earned, you may have a hard time teaching children to save. Children learn from observing you and others in the grocery store, post office, bank, toy store, mall, and home.
What about those gift cards that your children may have received for Christmas or perhaps birthday gifts? Children just forming their view of money can often be confused by concepts of gift cards and the difference between that and credit cards, especially when both pieces of plastic bear a company or credit card company logo. Children age seven or under almost certainly cannot comprehend the difference.
Children just forming their view of money will have your explanation and mentoring about the differences between having money in hand (which is also gift card) and the use of sound credit management practices. Just as it is important to dispel the notion that money comes from ATM machines, it is important to teach kids about responsible choices when it comes to gift cards and credit cards.