Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Teaching Children, Part 7: Real-life finances

Part seven in our series on teaching children about money...

As I grew older, my parents gave me responsibility that made me realize money wasn't just something to collect knowledge about. It was real life. As a teenager, I was responsible for keeping the books and paying the bills for our small family business.

It's one thing when financial understanding is theories, but when you have other peoples' real money in your control, reality sinks in. When I kept the checkbook and paid bills, it was different that my personal finances: I felt a greater responsibility to others to see that it was done correctly.

Make sure your teenager has a clear understanding of what to do before letting them loose on paying bills. Otherwise it could become very frustrating for both of you. :-) (As long as you're still signing the checks, you can still keep an eye on things that way.)

You may not have a small business to train your children on, but what about your household bills--phone, electricity, water? Online bill pay is convenient, but it might be worthwhile to write checks for a while, if you can be training your children in the process--and if they realize how much you're paying, they may think longer before they waste resources.