Guest blogger Mary Weinand, Human Sciences Specialist, shares some important helpful ideas for fiscal health this holiday season.
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.
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.
Do you remember taking an economics class in school? What did you think about that class? Some will remember becoming dizzy by the numbers, others may have thought it was boring, and others may have been astounded by the technical aspect of all the numbers! Having a basic understanding of economics helps to guide our use of money throughout life!
Families who talk openly about setting financial goals including saving and budgeting, set a good example for their children to follow. When prices increase families have to have a spending plan that will meet their income and pay the bills! For many families, these discussions are difficult because we want to protect kids from the worry of adult family financial pressure. Opening the doors of communication can help the children realize why requests for new toys, or game systems come with the word “NO” more frequently than we like.
Helping children to understand that money is earned through hard work and that putting extra money away through a savings plan is one way to work toward earning a new game or toy! For many of us MONEY is an emotional issue, and those emotions affect spending decisions people make. As parents, our job is to help children explore their personal feelings and attitudes about money. When confronted with the difference between “needs” and “wants”, and knowledge about the most current balance in the checkbook, even children can make decisions about spending or saving!
There are many similarities between goal setting and traveling down life’s highway. How do we help kids learn how to achieve goals when the path life takes you isn’t typically a superhighway. Rather it’s a curvy, twisting, mostly uphill dirt road scattered with potholes and mud puddles. At least that’s how many people would describe the path their life has taken.
I don’t think that we are fair with our kids, if we paint a picture of success that is void of the obvious potential obstacles that may get in their way. I’ve found goalsetting to be more productive with my kids, if together, we can anticipate the difficulties that might lay ahead. As adults we already know that it’s much easier to travel down a road that has signs posted that help you avoid potential perils. We’ve learned that it’s easier to drive with your headlights on, in other words, being prepared for the conditions and what lies ahead.
My other piece of travel advice. Never travel without a roadmap. A roadmap—is essential for the experienced and inexperienced traveler. In goalsetting—the map is the plan. A plan that has been made with all of the anticipated obstacles in mind… will make success much more probable!
It is a New Year, but my “to do” list is a mile long. Are you someone that makes lists of the things that you must accomplish? As a family, do you make a list of your dreams and wishes for the year? Something I learned early in my 4-H career, was that if I would write down my goals, and continue to review them throughout the year, I was more likely to see success.
A to do list is something that helps us stay on track. It is very easy to get distracted at work, home and even at school. My sister refers to distractions as “shiny objects”. As a parent she has learned to limit the “shiny object” distractions so that her boys can stay on track.
I wonder how many of us have the same “shiny object” distraction syndrome. Attention deficit is what some folks may call it. We have so many competing opportunities that it makes it hard to keep focused on just one task at a time. I do believe that if we learn skills in time management and work alongside people who have similar goals and work ethic that we can achieve so much.
Prioritizing our plan may be a needed step! If you have a list that must be prioritized, how do you go about deciding what to accomplish first? Some say to do the easiest tasks first and cross them off your list. Others would advise to do the most difficult tasks when you are at your freshest. Some folks are best and brightest first thing in the morning. Others feel that the morning is a time for waking up and these folks get their energy in the afternoon. Try to identify the time you work best and then get at it and use your energy to tackle your list.
As parents, help your children learn to set their own personal goals. Take some time as a family and visit with one another about what plans would help your family feel more organized in the New Year. Maybe look at the calendar, and make some decisions about your schedules. Planning ahead will help you to feel in control of the hectic schedule that many families experience. Another way to avoid distractions is to set down our mobile device.
Have you noticed how addicting our mobile devices are? The cell phone is a phone, calendar, instant messenger, quick connection to the Internet and certainly a distraction. The cell phone is something that is also getting in the way of some of our most important human connections. People are more likely to text someone than to visit face to face. We have a whole group of students that are unable to write a complete sentence or spell correctly, because we have become lazy by texting and hiding behind the ease of the cell phone.
We can do better! We must do better. Plan to communicate with your family today, develop your yearly plan and remember to review it throughout the year! Together your family can steer the ship in a new direction in 2016!
Happy New Year!
Eat better. Exercise more. Get organized. Learn something new. It’s that time of year when adults make resolutions to help them reach their goals. It’s also a good time for parents to help their children build goal-setting skills. To succeed in school and in life, children need to be able to make their own decisions and guide their own behavior. Setting goals can help kids learn to connect their own personal choices with the end results. Parents can be involved by helping their children think about and set personal goals, and then encouraging them to work toward the goals.
As you work on goals, try to avoid steering your child toward the goal you want him or her to achieve. Offer guidance, but let your child choose the goal. Children who have a say in what they are learning are more motivated to succeed. What matters is that children see themselves making progress. This is far more important than what the specific goal is.
Just us this month as we talk about goal setting with children.
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Tick tick tick tick tick …this is what I hear in my head this week. The tick tick ticking of 2011. I’m not panicked or frantic. I think just mindful that the year is almost over. Reflective about what I thought the year would bring and what the year did bring. Some good, some not so good. But all of it worth reflecting on.
My favorite thing to is to look back with my family over the goals we had for the year. Yes, we sat down and all wrote out some goals for 2011. We started that about 5-6 years ago – maybe more. We all sit down and come up with something we want to do for ourselves, something we want to do with each other, and some place we want to go. It has been as simple as “I want to learn to ride a bike” and as complex as “I want to go to Disney”. We write them down and then we put them in my ‘To Do’ folder.
Periodically throughout the year I clean than ‘To Do’ folder and remind everyone what their goals were and we think about them, possibly edit them and put them back in the folder. At the end of the year we bring it out reflect on the things we did and didn’t do and then we do it all over again for the next year
You know what? We typically meet a majority of the goals… not all of them by any means… but as a family a good majority are met. And most of the time we did it without even trying. Isn’t that crazy?! Funny thing about goals is that if you write them down and date them they suddenly have the possibility of becoming reality. Even the trip to Disney happened!
What does your family do at the end of year? Do you create goals? Do you have traditions that help you celebrate the past year and welcome in the new?