Teaching Kids About Money is as Important as Teaching About Sex

| by Suzanne Venker

I take my kids to the bank regularly. Like we actually enter the building and go see the teller. Imagine.

If I didn't have children, I'm quite sure I'd rarely see the inside of a bank anymore. But I see it all the time as a mother, and here's why: Teaching children about money, in my opinion, is as important as teaching them about sex. (After all, I'd like them to stay married as adults and since these are the number one marriage killers, I think I should do my part to help fend off any pending disasters.)

The reason I take them Into the bank -- as opposed to the drive through -- is b/c I want them to see what banks looks like and what people do inside them. My children got their own bank accounts when they were five years old, and they've been putting money in and taking money out for a while now. They watch me fill out the form and have learned that you have to put money into a bank to get money out.

I think the process of filling out forms and touching money (as opposed to debit cards) is important when you're young. For example, my 6-year old wanted something from Target he'd been eyeing and it cost $9.29. He has $50 in the bank. Usually, we actually take the time to drive to the bank, go in, get his money out, and go to Target. But it was in the other direction so I fronted him the money.

The next morning we went to the bank and filled out the form. The teller handed him the money, at which point he handed it over to me. He then wanted to know how much he had left in the bank. He wasn't too happy about the fact that there was now $40 in there instead of $50 -- and since it had been a day since we bought the thing he wanted, the item's allure had worn off a bit. This made him think about how he wants to spend his money: was it worth it, do I really want it, that sort of thing.

We also have a 5-day rule I try to abide by. When my kids want something, I make them wait five days to see if they still want it. If they do, they can buy it. But nine out of ten times they change their mind. This teaches them that the feeling of wanting something doesn't always last, and that if you hold off you may be happier about having saved your money.

This last idea I read somewhere; I didn't come up with it on my own. But I remember loving the idea. Maybe you will, too.