CHICAGO (AP)—Moms are on the front lines of doling out allowances and shaping their children’s money habits.
And mothers who work in finance have extra knowledge to pass along about how to earn, save and spend it responsibly.
To Rita Cheng, a financial adviser and mother of three in Potomac, Md., there aren’t many more important skills a parent can teach than managing money.
It’s not that she schools her kids on the niceties of annuities, exchange-traded funds or some other complex concept. Her money talk is more about how they should handle their time and their money and what opportunities that can create.
“Those are lifelong skills that will serve you well in all areas of your life,” she says.
Plus, she adds with a laugh, she needs to be ready with an intelligent response when her 13-year-old son accuses her of being cheap for not buying what he wants.
Moms who work as certified financial planners shared the best advice they gave their kids about moneytips suitable for offspring of all ages. Their five top tips:
1. Know the difference between needs and want
Cheng, who works for Ameriprise Financial, talks a lot about needs versus wants with her son, Christian, and daughters Sarina, 16, and Karolina, 7.
Sometimes it’s difficult to tell the two situations apart, she acknowledges. Other times it’s clear, such as when Karolina, a second-grader, said “I need a cellphone!”
It was different when Sarina, a high schooler, made the case for getting a smartphone. She was on the move a lot from school to babysitting to piano lessons and, in part, wanted to be able to access homework assignments online.
Cheng agreed that Sarina needed a smartphone and bought her one for her 16th birthday. But Cheng realizes that needs and wants differ by family, community and income level. “In this day and age it is really hard” for parents to differentiate, she says, noting that it’s not easy to keep kids grounded.
2. Don’t spend it all in one place
Money that kids receive as gifts can provide a valuable teaching opportunity.
When she was a pre-teen, Eleanor Blayney’s daughter, Elizabeth, would get $25 from her grandma as a birthday present. Elizabeth would immediately ask, “OK, what costs $25 that I can spend money on?”
That gave Blayney the chance to emphasize that money is divisible.
“You don’t have to spend it all in one place,” says Blayney, consumer advocate for the CFP Board in Washington. “You can spend some, save, invest, give.”