Book helps parents teach kids 3-23 about money

Posted: April 19, 2017 at 1:50 a.m.

When you're the parent, you're supposed to know a few things. How to change unspeakably dirty diapers. How to weather toddler tantrums. How to play yet another game of Candy Land without losing your mind.

These things can be hard. Perhaps most confusing of all, though, parents also are supposed to know how to give their child a financial education.

Beth Kobliner's new book, Make Your Kid a Money Genius (Even If You're Not) A Parents' Guide for Kids 3 to 23 (Simon & Schuster, $19.99) can help. Broken down by topic, and by different ages, it's easy to find the section that will help you guide your children on money matters by developmental stage. Even better, it's friendly, approachable and manages to simplify complex topics without ever talking down to us. This is a book to keep on your bookshelf -- you'll take it down to reference again and again, as your children (and you) graduate to each new stage of their money education.

Here's an interview with the author, edited for length and clarity.

Q Money and parenting are two of the biggest problems affecting marriages. Do you have any advice for parents who aren't on the same page when it comes to values around money?

A I think the idea of presenting a unified front to kids is important. Fighting in front of kids is not only very stressful, but according to this research, it can also influence their behaviors. Whether you're married or divorced or separated or whatever your personal issues, you really have to say, "OK, as much as possible, when it comes to money, we will present a united front and not argue about it." Kids, as we know, are very smart and they can play parents off each other. That is never good for a child and in terms of money, as this study shows, it can lead to more debt.

Q Most parents value raising kind, generous kids. How does that fit together with raising a money genius?

A From very young ages, you can give children a jar for spending, a jar for saving and a jar for giving. Research shows that people who give are happier, so even if you're looking at it from a self-interested perspective, there's rationale for giving. But more importantly, people realize that giving of time and giving of money gives children context. If you go with your kids to a soup kitchen or a children's hospital or whatever the local organization, somehow them complaining, "Why aren't we going to this fancy place for vacation like our neighbors?" suddenly makes it clear what their needs are and what their wants are. Children being aware of the world around them is so important and even at young ages, kids can have a great deal of empathy. And sometimes they don't. We also shouldn't be too hard on them. Kids don't always understand that giving something away means that they can still have some of whatever it is, too.

Q If you had to choose one, what would be the No. 1 money lesson you'd like kids to learn from their parents?

A I have two. A credit card is a loan, so be careful. Second, waiting. You wait for the swings, you wait for your birthday. I still remember waiting for The Wizard of Oz to come on TV once a year. You need to wait and save up for something you want. Waiting and being able to delay gratification is one of the most important lessons kids can learn about money and in life.

Family on 04/19/2017