Teaching your kids penny-wisdom is essential in a seemingly cashless age

WASHINGTON — Money can be an abstract concept to kids.

Credit cards, online banking and mobile payment services such as Venmo mean actual green is rarely seen or used — a far cry from the piggy banks, fat wallets and checkbooks with which us grown-ups grew up.

It can all lead to a casual approach to money, which isn’t exactly a great thing as summer rolls around. “The intersection of technology and money today is actually a critical parenting issue, because our kids are growing up in an increasingly cashless society,” said parenting blogger Leslie Morgan Steiner of ModernMom.com.

There are things, however, that parents can — and should — do to ensure financial responsibility down the road, Steiner told WTOP’s Mark Lewis and Debra Feinstein.

Hold a start-of-summer family meeting to emphasize the importance of managing money. Even if kids are too young to have their own summer job, they probably get an allowance. Use this meeting to discuss how much money will be coming in, when they’ll get it and on what it can be spent.

Another element of this Financial Responsibility 101 syllabus: the importance of saving. Mandate percentages to which they must adhere.

“Parents’ job is to teach them what money is — how it’s acquired then spent responsibly,” Steiner said.

Being a kid’s first financial adviser is a great example of parenting in general, she said. But with money, she’s wary of letting them make mistakes.

“In this case, it’s pretty good to pass on your knowledge about money and be a little more directive than you might with other things, because it might take them a long time to figure out the mistake,” Steiner said.

Blended families mean added challenges in teaching these lessons, she said. Iron out those family money policies with your partner and all exes, so that they’re consistent and fair for everyone in the family.

Teaching financial responsibility opens the door to some additional lessons on society as well, she said.

“The big picture that you want to communicate to your kids is that in our culture, money can equal freedom and opportunity and security,” Steiner said, “and so as parents we need to teach our kids how to master money now in small ways, so that money doesn’t master them in the future.”

Jack Pointer

Jack contributes to WTOP.com when he's not working as the afternoon/evening radio writer.

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