Two books have recently crossed my desk about kids and money.
The first “The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money,” by Ron Lieber ($15.99, Harper Collins), promises to be “a generational manifesto first and foremost — a promise to our kids that we will make them better at managing money than we are and give them the tools they need to avoid the financial traps that still ensnare so many adults.”
Lieber wants to you to be honest with your children about money and allow them to ask any question. He believes they should know your financial state and how you got that way.
The chapter that everyone will want to know about is “The Allowance Debates.” Lieber, who is the Your Money columnist for the New York Times, recommends that you start allowance by first grade and that it be 50 cents to $1 per year of age for children younger than 10. They get a raise each birthday. Set up three jars: Spend for impulse purchases, Give for donating money, and Save for a long-term goal purchase that they determine. He recommends splitting up the money evenly into the jars at first. When you set up these jars, this is also the time to discuss what is a want versus a need, and also consider with kids the concept of it being enough and not too much.
Lieber warns against letting kids watch too much commercials, letting kids demand things they want and overindulging in birthdays, holidays and tooth fairly money. He also wants kids doing chores and not getting paid for them. That’s part of being in the family.
He has models of when to give in to what other kids are getting such as smartphones and cars. He encourages kids to work when they come of age and help save for college.
Brett Graff’s “Not Buying It: Stop Overspending and Start Raising Happier, Healthier, More Successful Kids,” ($16, Seal) goes through classic items that parents overspend on and how they can better use that money. She’s the Home Economist for Reuters news service. She wants you to put more money into college savings from the beginning and less into commercial things like the latest and greatest crib and stroller. She makes the case for public school, for volunteering rather than donating money, investing in disability insurance but not a cleaning service, buying your home at the right time and more tips. She’s also a fan of starting allowance early and the three-jar system.
Some of her ideas make sense but might make us uncomfortable like buying cheap soap and not spending money on moisturizers, but she does make some good points. After all, does your child feel inadequate because her nursery didn’t match as a baby? Probably not.