Savvy spending & saving: Teaching kids to manage money

January 30, 2017
in Kids

It’s never too late — or too early — to start teaching your kids money savvy. Jon Corbin’s son was only 5 when the recession sent their family finances into a tailspin. But amid the stress, he had an epiphany. “If I could go back and save 10 cents of every dollar I touched, I would have been in a much better position than I was in that moment,” said Corbin, owner of The Buyer’s Agent in Asheville. He pledged to instill in his own kids what he’d learned the hard way. “Whenever I made money as a kid I spent it, so that became my habit in life,” Corbin said. “My son had the benefit of not having any money habits at that point.” So Corbin crafted a plan. He rounded up four jars and nested them into a shoebox. Using masking tape and a Sharpie, he labeled the jars “give, grow, plan and live.” Whenever his son got money, they pulled out the box and divvied it up among the jars — whether it was a $50 birthday check or $2 from the tooth fairy. With an old-fashioned piggy bank, money only goes two directions: in or out. Corbin’s jars-in-a-shoebox mimicked a financial portfolio, but in tangible terms a preschooler could grasp. “Grow” stood for investing, and “plan” for saving. “I wanted them to learn those are actually two different things,” Corbin said. Ten percent went in the “give, grow and plan” jars, and the other 70 percent went in the “live” jar for spending. Corbin coined the system “Divvy Up.” “And they learned to do that from day one,” Corbin said of his kids, now 11 and 13. “We want to do everything we can to set our kids on the right foot.” Corbin shared the idea with his friend Maureen Scullin, who decided to pilot the system with her 9-year-old twins. Now 16, her girls still use their box of jars. “They still divvy, every bit of money they get,” said Scullin, of Asheville, who works in business relations for Pardee Hospital. “When they go on in their life, they are so much better prepared than any of us were. They value money and are very smart shoppers.” Scullin discovered kids are far more thrifty when their own money’s on the line. “If we’re buying tennis shoes and they say ‘Ooooh, I want those $80 pair of tennis shoes,’ but we’re only allowing $40 for tennis shoes and they have to pay for the difference, then...

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