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Should Money Management For Kids Be Core Curriculum?

Steve & Annette Economides

The 2009 National Home School Research Institute proved, beyond doubt that home-schooled children excel in every measurable academic category. From a survey of more than 12,000 students the statistics revealed that on standardized tests our kids scored more than 30 percentage points higher than their public schooled peers.

But how do they fare in non-academic areas? Are we instilling in our kids the life skills they'll need to survive in the fast-paced, hard-hitting, real world?

Consider the area of personal finance.

Whether our children become highly paid engineers or wonderful, loving home school moms, not knowing how to manage their household's income can lead to financial and emotional disaster—disagreements over finances is one of the top reasons for divorce.

Here are 10 reasons why we as parents need to intentionally train our children to become financially independent adults.

1) Teaching them will Teach You Many of us weren't taught to manage money and as a result feel totally unqualified to teach our children. As with any subject we teach at home, we need a good manual, some time and to realize that we merely need to be one or two steps ahead of our children. Learning to steward our own money will only produce good for our children and us. It's not too hard—learn along with them.

2) They'll learn it somewhere If our kids don't learn to manage their money at home, where will they learn it—from friends; TV ads; college recruiters; credit card companies? Even public schools are looking for answers with several we've read about using curriculum provided by credit card companies to teach personal finance information to students. Who will provide them with godly, unbiased instruction? We are the ones who need to instill these values in our own kids.

3) It could cost you … a lot! Without a plan for training your children to stand financially independent you may join 60 percent of parents who are currently supporting their adult children. We aren't talking about physically or mentally challenged young adults, or those with severe medical conditions. We're talking about able-bodied, adult children who move back home and allow mom and dad to foot the bill. Nest eggs can quickly turn into goose eggs when funding the lifestyles of adult children.

4) Good Habits Take Time How easy is it to brush your teeth? Years of repetition have rendered this habit almost automatic for most of us. Yet, initially, for a toddler it is a massive chore that requires full concentration.

Initially, developing a system to teach our kids to manage their own money was difficult and cumbersome. Eventually, as our system and we matured we saw great growth in our children. As their earnings increased, and their decision making improved — their enthusiasm about working, earning and managing their own money to reach larger and larger goals soared. It was infections, but it took time. We can't expect a sound financial habit to be developed one year before heading off to college. Start now and give your kids the opportunity to develop a lifelong habit of stewardship.

5) Finances affect everything! How we manage money can affect every area of our lives. The clothes we buy, the home we live in, the car we drive, the college we attend, the vacations we take, the food we buy, the person we marry and the children we raise, are all affected by how we handle money. Helping our children develop a realistic perspective on finances is critical to their maturity. We don't want them to be obsessed with money, but to see it as a tool that needs to be used according to the rules.

6) It's cheaper when they're young! When our kids are younger and we're teaching them about pennies, nickels and dimes the importance seems almost negligible. But as with most lessons, as they mature, the price tag increases. Soon they'll be making decisions about $5 items, then $50, and then $500 expenses. And when they go to college the prices really soar. If we start training them when the price tag is smaller, they'll have fewer expensive problems when they're older. Remember, we aren't raising children … we're raising future adults!

7) Less Entitled We can eliminate attitudes of entitlement and the "gimmes" by teaching our children to spend their own money for the things they want. As a nation we've seen the horrific affects of entitlement programs, both to the government who funds them and to the recipients who think that the money they're given is deserved. Let's train our kids that working hard will entitle them to earn and spend their own well-deserved income.

8) Debt-Proof We can teach our kids to be above average. If the average college student graduates with $20,000 worth of debt and a $10,000 car loan, and then marries another average student—what will become of them? Starting a marriage off with $60,000 worth of debt and average paying jobs is a recipe for financial distress and heartache.

Teaching a child to earn and spend wisely; helping them to plan, research and save for things they want without debt; and demonstrating how we run to God rather than to the bank in hard times—All these things will combine to debt-proof our children so they can withstand life's financial tempests.

9) Off To Work Helping our children to write a resume, practice mock interviews and search for a job are all skills that will help build a successful financial future. And working a part-time job in their high school years can build a strong work ethic and resume that they can take forward into their adult years. They'll also learn to manage larger sums of money than most of us can afford to pay them and be able to fund more of their living expenses.

10) After you're gone If kids are raised in an environment with loving limits and encouragement to become self-sufficient they will be less likely to compete with each other for material possessions. We've seen so many families where parents used money to "buy" their children's affection or constantly bailed-out their adult children, that when the parents died, the fighting for money and possessions tore the family apart. Investing your time to teach your children to manage money will leave a legacy that will go beyond the financial realm.

As home school parents, fully invested in our children's success, we want to equip them to thrive as they move into adulthood. Let's focus on their complete education: academic and life-skills learning. As we do this we will preserve the path that our home school predecessors have forged—our children will continue to exceed the norms and truly guide their generation to a better place.

Steve & Annette Economides are home school parents of five grown children, NY Times Best Selling authors and live in Scottsdale, Arizona. They are committed to bringing financial hope and practical advice to home school families across the country and around the world. Their newest book, "The MoneySmart Family System" was awarded the Family Choice Award for the Best Parenting Resource of 2012.
Visit MoneySmartFamily.com for more details.

Teaching the Reluctant Learner