Help Young Children Form Positive Financial Habits

parent and daughter putting coins into piggy bankGuest blogger and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Human Sciences Specialist in Family Finance, Sandra McKinnon shares some compelling information on youth and financial literacy.

Children form financial habits at an early age. Parents and care providers can influence what those habits will be. University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher Karen Holden and colleagues found that habits children learn when they are young form the basis for their future behavior. A study from Cambridge University found that children form financial habits by age 7. We may teach our children that a dime is thin and worth 10 cents, but developing financial habits includes more than just recognizing coins. Parents and care providers can help children gain the knowledge and skills they need to develop positive financial habits.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau suggests teaching preschoolers these basic concepts:
You need money to buy things.
You earn money by working.
You may have to wait before you can buy something you want.
There is a difference between things that you want and things that you need.
Other concepts to establish good financial habits include learning about numbers, time and institutions, such as stores, banks or credit unions, and employers. Children also can learn about budgeting, regular saving and shopping strategies; social values, such as gifts, generosity and sense of community; and public goods like the library.

Another way to engage with children is by reading money-related books with children, and providing hands-on learning opportunities. Check out the following titles at your local library:

Sheep in a Shop by Nancy Shaw
The Berenstain Bears Think of Those in Need by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Just a Piggy Bank by Mercer Mayer
Just Saving My Money by Mercer Mayer
A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams

The goal is to help children become comfortable with basic tools of how and why financial choices are made. For example, we can encourage pretend play, like a grocery store. Or we can explore careers by playing dress-up or acting out stories. In addition, we can talk about whether spending money on entertainment, for example, is a need or a want.

ISU Extension and Outreach human sciences specialists in family finance offer Preschoolers and Pennies: Read, Talk, Learn and Play, a 2-hour training for child care providers. Providers practice a way of reading with children that gives children an opportunity to become storytellers of books with a money theme. This introduces and reinforces money-related words and concepts in a more meaningful way. Complementary activities throughout the day encourage preschoolers to practice money skills.

Visit the Extension Store for the Allowance Game. Playing this game starts a great discussion on choices and consequences.

Barb Dunn Swanson

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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The Language of Money

Parents reading a book with their daughterAs we continue our conversation with Human Sciences Family Finance Specialist Mary Weinand, she reminds us how important financial literacy is and even recommends a few children’s books.

I believe financial literacy is like any other language and like any other language we need to hear it often to understand it. Young children learn best by observing and mimicking adults. Our children may not understand the concept of credit, money, or savings but they are very good observers and they learn from us. This process is called financial socialization and research by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau indicates that children form personal financial habits as early as preschool and these attitudes often carry into adulthood.

So how can we help our children learn appropriate financial behaviors?

Young children may not know anything about banks, credit cards, or money. But, they are very good observers. They have constant exposure to their parents and a desire to mimic their behavior, or the behaviors of the community around them. Research by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and others indicate that the personal traits, habits, and behaviors that lead to financial well-being in adulthood start to form as early as preschool.

Children as young as three begin to demonstrate self-regulations, persistence, and focus. They can use these qualities when using and managing limited resources like time, money, treats, or belongings. They have begun to develop basic values and attitudes around saving, consuming and early numeracy skills.

Parents are often the biggest and most positive influence of the financial socialization of their children. They can help their children by providing opportunities to learn and interact with money. Children learn important money lessons simply by watching parents earn, spend, save, share and borrow. Have children create shopping lists and help them to comparison shop and select grocery items. Include children in family financial decisions, planning, and saving for goals such as vacation and college education. And, model positive financial behaviors during everyday routines, such as comparing prices and products, and sticking to a shopping list. You don’t have to have a lot of money, in fact children often learn best when choices are limited and they can observe the difference between needs and wants.

Another method to introduce children to the topic of money is through books. It is often easier to be more objective when talking about book characters and their money decisions. After families talk about what the characters could do, adopting some of the same financial concepts into their own lives is easier too.

And, parents do not need to be money experts. Many of the building blocks for good financial decision making—like patience, planning, and problem-solving—do not require a lot of financial know-how. Some good book choices are; The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble With Money, (Stan & Jan Berenstain), or A Bargain for Frances, (Russell Hoban). These books help express important financial topics such as problem solving, savings, earnings, and self-control.  A great resource for families and libraries is the Money as You Grow Book Club guide which provides several family activities and more reading suggestions.

To learn more about family finance information, contact any ISU Extension and Outreach county office to be connected with a human sciences specialist in family finance.

Barb Dunn Swanson

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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Keep it Fiscally Healthy this Holiday Season

 Guest blogger Mary Weinand, Human Sciences Specialist, shares some important helpful ideas for fiscal health this holiday season.

parent and daughter putting coins into piggy bank

Each year at Holiday season we are flooded with articles and advice on how to “stay healthy” with all the choices we have and the opportunities to overindulge. Well, the advice we hear to maintain our physical health is useful for our fiscal health as well. This is a great time of year to take the opportunity to share healthy financial choices with our children.

Provide Healthy Choices

Discuss things your child enjoys that are free, such as playing with a friend or going to the library. Teachers report year after year that it is not the toys their students remember but the time they spend with their families. The card games and puzzles, the snowball fights and family meals are important healthy financial choices. A good book on this topic is, “Alexander who used to be Rich Last Sunday” by Judith Viorst. You can talk to your child about all the ways Alexander used his money and more importantly …was he happy with his choices.

Portion control

Many health advisors remind us to manage our portions to minimize over indulgence. This Holiday season take the opportunity to think about ways we can talk to our children about spending plans. How much money do they have and how do they plan to spend it when buying gifts for the family. Remind your children about added expenses like taxes and work with them to think about ways to stretch their dollars. Show them how to comparison shop and emphasize the gift of time. Promising to rake leaves and shovel driveways would be greatly appreciated by many family members. A good book to read together is, “Sheep in a Shop”  by Nancy Shaw. Ask your child if it was hard for the sheep to decide and how did the sheep solve the problem of not enough money?

Set Realistic Goals

When setting health goals we want the goal to be realistic and manageable and the same applies to finances. Young children may be confused about delayed gratification and buying gifts for others. It can be difficult for children to give a gift they may want themselves. Talk to your child about things that take time, plant some seeds in a cup or in a garden, and wait for them to grow. Together, take care of the seeds to help them grow. Or, sit down as a family and create a “family fun” list for winter, spring, summer, and fall. Write down all the activities that your family likes to do together. Some activities are free, like going for a walk or playing a game, and some activities cost money. A fun book to read together about realistic goals is, “Curious George  Saves His Pennies”  by Margaret and H.A. Rey

For more ideas or book suggestions about money, refer to the “Money as You Grow Bookshelf” by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Additional family finance resources available here.

Barb Dunn Swanson

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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Family Finances in the New Year

As the New Year approaches, are you writing down some goals or resolutions? Each year, I try to identify one or two new things I want to try, or do differently. I often use the beginning of the New Year to adjust my savings strategy so that I can also meet my goal of having some funds to be able to travel and visit my family when summer rolls around.

This is also the time of year that I have to pay the bills for the gifts that I purchased during the holiday season. Having a spending and savings plan is important.  Children learn so much from watching how other family members and friends use money. As adults we can model good spending habits, and educate our own children so that they will develop good consumer management skills. You may be curious about what resources are available to help you teach your child about how money works or how to be a good money manager as an adult. I would like to suggest you explore the following links:

Wishing you and your family a great and prosperous New Year!

Barb Dunn Swanson

Barb Dunn Swanson

With two earned degrees from Iowa State University, Barb is a Human Sciences Specialist utilizing her experience working alongside communities to develop strong youth and families! With humor and compassion, she enjoys teaching, listening and learning to learn!

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Nutrition and Wellness for Families

Human Sciences Extension and Outreach has three subject areas, including Nutrition and Wellness, which covers a variety of topics from what’s on your plate to food safety to preservation to exercise. Some of these apply to families, some address aging, and some are adult specific.

A lovely domestic scene of a cute little boy with Down Syndrome baking cupcakes with his dad at home in their kitchen. This is an authentic scene using ambient lighting and real people.One of our best tools for nutrition that is available is Spend Smart. Eat Smart.  I know that Barb highlighted it back in July,  but it has so much going on, I wanted to remind you. From the county perspective, it is an easy way to introduce individuals to healthy meal choices and cost saving when I don’t have as much expertise on the topic as the specialists do!

Spend Smart. Eat Smart. is great for anyone who plans, cooks, or eats food. Every recipe on the website follows specific nutrition guidelines and lists the cost per serving. This way, you can make delicious meals that are both good for your family AND your bank account! The site also helps you save money by providing a lesson on unit pricing (and the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. app has a unit pricing calculator!), assisting in meal planning,  as well as other ways. To promote good nutrition, in addition to the recipe following those specific guidelines, the website provides nutrition labels with every dish. There is also a tab to explain what the information on those labels means!

Beautiful African American woman and her daughter cooking in the kitchenI’ve only included a few benefits of Spend Smart. Eat Smart. – so check it out!

On the Science of Parenting website, you can find a link to the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website under the Everyday Parenting tab, and the Nutrition and Wellness for Parenting heading. In including the Nutrition and Wellness for Parenting section, we hoped to narrow down the wide variety of resources available to a few of our favorites that fit parenting more specifically. Perhaps once you go and take a look at what’s available – you’ll end up planning supper for tonight!

Mackenzie DeJong

Mackenzie DeJong

Recent Family and Consumer Sciences grad and Human Sciences Program Coordinator serving four counties in Northwest Iowa. Background editor and occasional contributor of the "county perspective" for the Science of Parenting blog.

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Children and Financial Literacy

As we continue to share about children and money, we would like to highlight this blog from fellow Human Sciences teammates in the Family Finance arena.

Maybe After A Million Words

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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Overindulging: What’s Best for Our Children?

Young boy (6-7) about to destroy toy car, girl (3-4) crying, mother sitting in armchair

As parents, we want what’s best for our children. But as a parent I’ve experienced the urge to provide experiences and material possessions that I wasn’t fortunate enough to have had as a child and as an adult I have the financial means to provide for my child.  I have learned that this urge needs to counter with the question of “what is best?”.

How do we know what’s best? I ask myself this question every birthday, and every holiday.  I have used a couple questions to keep my urge to give under control.  The first question I ask is “Is this gift or experience good for them?”   In other words, does giving this gift promote or prevent learning?  Then I evaluate the financial impact that this gift will have on our family budget.  Does it use too many family resources that should be used or saved for something else?  College isn’t many years away even for an infant.  Even little purchases add up over the years.  The last question I consider is that of need.  Is the gift something I want?  Does it benefit me more than my child?  Am I using the gift as a way to compensate for time, I wish I had spent with my child?

Overindulging and buying too much has become epidemic among parents. As parents we need to question our purchases and respond with moderation and mindfulness.  Even with good intentions, the results of giving too much can be harmful.

Janet Smith

Janet Smith

Janet Smith is a Human Science Specialist-Family LIfe with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She currently provides family life programming in eight counties in southeast Iowa. Janet is a "parenting survivor". She is the mother of Jared-21, Hannah-20, and Cole-15. She and her husband, David have faced many challenges together, including their son Jared's Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy diagnosis.

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Spoiling Grandkids

This week we welcome guest blogger Kristi Cooper. Human Sciences Specialist in Family Life and new grandma.

were grandparnetsI had no idea I’d be taking my own advice years after I wrote about the overspending of grandmothers and aunts on new babies. I’m very excited to provide my 11 month old granddaughter with as many new experiences as she can handle.  Her parents are practical and their home is small so the oodles of toys, clothes and other baubles that are bestowed upon her by well-meaning relatives create stress. Besides, my grandgirl is pretty happy with simple household surfaces to pound and pull up on, and a human or two to keep her entertained.

Marketers of baby stuff focus on female consumers – aunts and grandmothers in particular – because their hearts are as big as their wallets. By keeping our wallets closed and our hearts open we can avoid turning our grandchildren into beggars and entitled teens. Here are 5 ways to love those precious little ones without creating strained relationships, stress over stuff and maintain our financial wellbeing.

  1. Gift of Talent/Skills We all have the need to contribute to our family and community. Share age-appropriate activities with your grandchild or grand babyPlay together – Teach a game from your childhood such as kick-the-can or hide-and-seek.
  2. Gift of Words Talk Together – Encourage grandchildren, nieces, and nephews by highlighting the positive values you see in them. Ask about their goals in life. Talk about how they can reach those goals. Point out the characteristics that you admire in them.
  3. Gift of Time Nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention – sharing conversation and activities. Work together  Do household chores, homework, bicycle repair or volunteer in the community with your younger generation. Working together teaches skills, work ethic and the value of contributing to others.
  4. Gift of Objects – We all like to receive objects that have been thoughtfully selected just for us. Keep material gifts to a minimum and consider the life-span of the object.  Create together – Choose toys  and consumables like art materials that stimulate critical thinking, imagination and are age-appropriate. Ask yourself, who is doing the thinking – the child or the manufacturer?
  5. Gift of Touch/Self Care – Wrap these gifts in plenty of hugs and kisses, bedtime backrubs, tickles and laughter. Practice relaxation techniques so you can be fully present for your grandchild.

YOU are the best gift your grandchild can receive!

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Kristi Cooper

Kristi’s expertise in caregiving, mind body skills and nature education inspires her messages about healthy people and environments with parents, professionals, and community leaders.

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What Do I Get the Grandkids?

I’ve got my list and I’m checking it twice. No, I’m not the jolly old Santa whose lap the kids climb on with those endless “I want” lists. Rather I am the Grandmother wondering what I can get the grandkids that they will appreciate and use. Gone are the days when it was so easy buying for the babies.

So what to do? Well I could get a list from the kids or ask their parents for ideas. Or, I could figure out ways to give of myself to strengthen the bonds of connection. Perhaps there is a combination of the two that makes sense for me.

Kristi Cooper, a co-worker, recently wrote two handouts that are filled with practical ways to create meaning.

Giving and receiving gifts is an expression of love. It can be done in a manner that is respectful to needs, wants, finances, and family values. When gift giving occasion arise – holidays, birthdays, and special events – I give from the heart. Honoring the special connection with my grandkids is priceless.

How do you handle gift giving with your grandkids?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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A Vampire Named Energy

thCAMHX0F3During October we are surrounded by visions of vampires – costumes and advertisements and TV shows. But have you considered that vampires are with us every day of the year in the form of energy suckers?

Basically an energy vampire is an electrical product that cannot be switched off completely unless it is unplugged. For example a cell phone charger, if left plugged in, will continue to use electricity 24 hours a day. I found a list of the biggest energy vampires which are: TVs, window air conditioners, computers, video game systems, microwave ovens, and power tools.

Granted, most products go on “standby power” but when you consider all the electrical things in your home, it adds up fast. So how can we defeat the vampires?

The surest way is to unplug anything not in use. But that can get cumbersome so an alternative is to fight the energy vampires with power strips. Plug TVs, video game systems, DVD players, etc. into a power strip. Then flip off the power switch when done. This is way easier than remembering to pull lots of plugs. Get another power strip and do the same for all the chargers for cell phones, tablets, and computers.

Enlist the kids in helping find and fight the energy vampires. Have a little fun with this and train the whole family to “flip the switch” and “pull the plug.”

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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It’s Not the Same as Spoiled

Wow – I think we struck a note (or nerve) with the opening podcast on overindulgence. Some people are responding with humor and others are seriously questioning what it means. And on occasion, I’ve heard “that surely doesn’t include a doting aunt, grandparents, and so on.”

I confess, I’ve been known to spoil my grandkids now and then. And I’m guessing some of you parents have given in to your child’s desire for that special something. That’s not what we’re talking about with overindulgence which is a pattern of behavior with too much, over-nurture, and soft structure.

Let’s start with one type of overindulgence which is material. That is having too much (toys, clothes, privileges, entertainment, activities) and not knowing what is enough. Researchers use a test of four to determine if there is an overindulgence issue. If one clue is present, then it’s time to stop and see what’s going on.

  1. Does the situation hinder the child from learning the tasks that support his or her development and learning at this age?
  2. Does the situation give a disproportionate amount of family resources to one or more of the children?
  3. Does this situation exist to benefit the adult more than the child?
  4. Does the child’s behavior potentially harm others, society, or the planet in some way?

Do these questions make sense? Have you thought about any of these questions as you make decisions in your family?

Note: As with all our podcasts we intend to share studies and research. Then our blogs are a further look into the topic from our perspective and we encourage your comments. I invite you to check out the research listing on the www.overindulgence.info web page. Links take you directly to research being done by Dr. Bredehoft and others. Another suggested reading is Study 6: Connections between Childhood Overindulgence and Adult Life Aspirations – A Preliminary Report by David J. Bredehoft and Chelsae Armao, 2008.

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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Storms of life…

A wild ‘Dust-nado’ that sent the town/schools scrambling a few weeks ago and the topic of Divorce made me think about how we cope with ‘storms’ of life.

In a sense we begin coping with all storms the same way. We open our toolbox of what we ‘know’ and begin to apply the skills to the storm. If the storm is small we may have all the tools we need to cope effectively. But as the storm grows we need to be open to allowing others (personal and professional) to help us fill that toolbox with the right tools. You really don’t want to use a hammer when you NEED a screwdriver (well in most cases- HA!).

In the midst of storms it can be difficult for us to determine the right tool to use for the storm we are in because we are in the middle of if surrounded by the yuck and muck. It can be hard to allow others to help us use the right tools – I’ll be the first one to admit I like to solve problems on my own! So I challenge you as I challenge myself – can you let others help you choose the right tool for your storm?

What tools have you found effective for life’s storms? Both big and small?

Here’s a great E-xtension Article – Coping with Stress

 

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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I Need It!

Or is it – I WANT it? For many of us, spending is the fun part of having money. Sometimes we do a good job of making spending decisions and other times, we probably could do better.

Our kids are no different. It’s hard for them to understand what you’re talking about when you start sharing ideas about making decisions. But what they will catch on to is how you make your choices.

So – listen to yourself. How often do you say, “I need this _____” when really you are saying, “I want ________”? All of us have lots of needs and wants. And young kids are apt to think they need everything and want it right now.

Here are a couple simple definitions for needs and wants.

  • Want – something you wish for very much but could live without
  • Need – something you have to have to live every day

Usually kids (and us adults) have more wants than needs. Here are four questions I used with my daughters when they wanted to spend money.

  • Do I really want it?
  • But, do I really need it?
  • Can I get along without it?
  • How can I pay for it?

Try using these questions when you want to spend money. See if you’re spending your hard earned money on needs or wants. Remember, your child will learn the most by simply watching how you spend your money.

How are you teaching your child the difference between needs and wants?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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Did My Parents Teach Me Right?

I grew up as a Missouri farm kid. There wasn’t much money but lots of chores – both inside and outside the home – and certainly no allowance. I had a piggy bank for small savings. And yes, my dad gave me a dollar for each “A” on a report card.

Did my parents teach me the right things about money? As an adult do I have a healthy relationship with money? Did I teach my daughters what they needed to know about money?

These are pretty weighty questions and ones that can cause a little guilt. So I was excited to hear the experts share the research results and their interpretations. The bad news is that the research isn’t conclusive and the good news is that the research isn’t conclusive. I also heard the experts share differing opinions. Whew – don’t need to feel guilty.

What I did learn is that parents don’t have to try to do everything a particular way. Many everyday mundane tasks involve money. Children learn from how they see their parents handle the family funds.  We are back to that role model concept that keeps coming up on most any topic.

So let me give you some questions to ponder.

  • What are you teaching when you pay for items with a credit card?
  • What are you teaching when you balance a check book or reconcile a bank account online?
  • What are you teaching when you give to your church or a local community project?
  • What are you teaching when you save for a new computer or flat screen TV?
  • What are you teaching when you complain about paying bills?

The list could go on and on. I just wanted to get you thinking about how what you do is always teaching. Anyone want to share a good story about a time when you taught your child a lesson about money by your behavior?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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Mom I Need Some Cash…

Yeah not really a catchy title… pretty boring because we’ve all heard it  (and probably even said it ourselves).

In listening to the podcast there is one thing that really really won’t leave my mind. “Consistency”.

Gosh isn’t that the pits. It’s the same word we use to talk about guidance and discipline with children. Huh… guess that means it’s a pretty important word.

But sometimes isn’t it soooooo hard? I know it is for me!!! Especially when it comes to money. I desperately want to teach my children good money management but making the time and being consistent is where I struggle.

I need your help on ideas on how I can be consistent!!!!  Yes this blog IS all about me!

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Lori Hayungs, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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