January brings many new things to many different people. For those who are employees, W-2s start to arrive. Wallets are still empty from the holiday gift giving but are starting to recover. New Year's resolutions are made, many of them about money, finances and budgeting.
As tax season looms, it's a great time to teach your children about money. Utilizing life lessons is an effective way of getting the point across to your kids. Keep in mind the ages of the little ones in your family when teaching so as not to overwhelm them. There are several ways to include them in your financial decisions.
- First, let them know how much Christmas costs in whole, minus their gifts, of course. You can tell them what percentage of your monthly income that gifts accounted for and how it is paid for. This gives them a perspective of what it takes to provide for special occasions.
- Start them on an allowance. I typically give my children $1 per year of age. My 9 year old makes $9 per week. She still has chores to do, and if they are not done she loses a percentage. When she goes to the store, she uses her own money to buy anything outside of my responsibility, such as food and school clothes. You can also teach them about budgeting by making them separate their money into appropriate divisions. For instance, in our household 10 percent goes to tithes so we insist that she give $1 of her allowance to church, although she can and has given more.
- If your child is old enough, show them how you are doing your taxes, whether you are getting professional help or doing it yourself. H&R Block, Liberty Tax Service, and Jackson Hewitt are among some of the companies that have Johns Creek locations. Teenagers can especially benefit from seeing that you have to pay a portion of your income and how to budget for it. Make sure to have your tax preparer talk to your kids about the percentage in taxes that are due to the government. Teens can also look for jobs to help with fun money or to save up for their own goals.
- If you made a New Year's resolution about finances, let your kid know. This can help you stick to your plans. Previous year's challenges have included no fast food and doing more low- to no-cost activities as a family, like biking and park days.
As 2011 kicks off, real-world parenting can prepare your kids for their lives ahead.