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Teach kids money matters early

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Teach kids money matters early

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Bringing up children should ideally be a joyful and enriching experience to any parent, but it can also create untold financial challenges if done without a plan. Many parents often put aside their investment plans and it’s all systems go to educate their children until they leave the nest. Needless to say, they often endure a retirement of poverty with nothing to shore them up except ample praise that they did their parenting job well.

According to personal finance experts, modern parenting, like every financial undertaking requires astute planning. It’s no longer a matter of begetting and raising children, like our forefathers, but one must contemplate the monetary implications of the life they envisage for them. One, therefore, must consider parameters like his or her children’s basic needs and education, and other incidental costs long before the dating game translates into a baby bulge. As a result, one’s overall financial obligations, like an investment plan; higher education loan repayment and mortgage and so on puts a limit on his or her family size.

The story of Richard Williams, father of the tennis icons Serena and Venus Williams, bears testimony to this. Williams, a tennis coach, literary “designed” his two daughters into professional tennis players. He and his wife Oracene started them early in the court and the rest, as they say, is history. This is an important parenting lesson. We should take into consideration the big picture of where we would want to leave our children and factor in the money to take them there long before the eventual visit to the labour ward.

Still, as parenting goes, it is easy to plan for the fixed costs like the cost of diapers and medical care but as children develop personalities and preferences, it is important not to bend to unreasonable demands or become enslaved by the cost of replacing items that get lost or damaged.

Miriam Gachango, a school teacher and a mother of two girls and one boy says this is especially true as children get older.

“Teenage girls require hygiene products,” she says, “while teenage boys are busy destroying things and playing dangerous games. Girls become conscious of themselves and are likely to decorate their rooms, go for the trendiest clothes and shoes and this is costly,” says Miriam. She says this cost plagues parents even into their children’s college years.

But the good news is that children can be taught to be economical from an early age. The best way is for parents to lead by example in being economical.

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• Let your children earn their pocket money by working around the home. This way, they can learn the value of money and how to save it.

• Watch out for the modern money drain where many parents are incurring huge costs on their children through lavish gifts and parties. Instead of frugal birthday parties at home with just a few friends, many parents routinely throw huge and costly celebrations and invite their children’s entire classes.

• Mothers, lead your daughters by example by reinventing clothing and accessories instead of constantly purchasing new items.

• Teach your children the value of appreciating what they already have by not overindulging them.

• Guard against reliving their lost youth through their children by pampering them with what they never had in their days; it can be costly.

• All promises with monetary implications made to children should actually be budgeted for and should be few and far apart.

• It pays for parents to show their children their money constraints otherwise; their personal finances are bound to suffer if they cave in to every demand.

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• Establishing a piggy bank for children is a good way of teaching them how to save.

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