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Money and youth: 5 ways to model the behavior you want

Money is all around, while shopping at the local Price Chopper, buying items at the Rotterdam Square Mall, balancing a checkbook for your Sefcu account. Capital Region parents, like all parents, know that as they grow up, kids watch adults’ behaviors and attitudes--whether social, work-related or financial. So modeling good money management is one of the best things you can do to get them ready to handle their own money.

Families can teach youth about money at the mall.
Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images

If you are constantly worrying about money or expressing anxiety about going broke or not being able to pay bills, losing the house, etc., those attitudes are naturally going to rub off on your kids. In fact, many adults’ money issues come from childhood impressions they got from their parents.

Here are a few things you can do to avoid passing a negative legacy on to your kids.

  1. Set an example. Decide what attitudes you want your kids to have toward money--then exhibit them yourself. Emphasize the “value” of money--teach your kids that money isn’t “free.” You have to work for it, and thus, are working for the things you purchase.
  2. Pay yourself first--overall personal savings in the U.S. is currently a very low 5%. If you want your kids to save, they’ve got to see you doing it too
  3. Get your debt under control--the average American household carries $15,788 in credit card debt. Indirectly teaching your kids to rely on credit could give them the wrong idea about plastic.
  4. Be in the habit of giving--when you give to charitable causes you’re encouraging your kids to be socially minded.
  5. Speak openly about money with your kids--you don’t have to go into all the details of your family finances, but talking about how money works and how to use it wisely will go a long way.

Keep your priorities straight--the last thing you want to pass on to your kids is the feeling that money is more important than family and friends. Money can’t buy happiness…or love...but learning how to manage money wisely will enable your kids to avoid many of the same money mistakes you may have made.

Carol VanValkenburgh, a Guilderland businesswoman who works with families, knows that education and modeling behavior counts. "Parents are the great teachers, before, during, and after school. Children are eager, active learners."

Dave Balog teaches financial essentials to Capital Region families. 355-0967.

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