It’s never too early to teach money management

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piggy bank

We teach our kids how to drive tractors, how to raise calves and milk cows, and even how to identify an armyworm. But have you passed on money management skills to your kids or 4-H’ers? 

Many of our youth will one day operate a family enterprise, and financial management can ensure a measure of happiness. The first step to teach might be to define needs and wants, and the discipline to understand the difference when it comes to positive money management. 

Money management is fostered with wise mentoring through our words and actions. We may not believe this, but kids are listening more than we think. When should you start teaching farm and family financial lessons? The only answer is, the sooner the better. 

Management

Here are a few suggestions. Let kids handle and spend their own money. It can begin with the “piggy bank” or a small “stash” in a special place where they can touch and count it. Have them keep track of all the money and to record how much they put in or take out of the “stash.” 

Reward them for saving and keeping an accurate count. It is a simple process that teaches youth how to respect the value of money.

Budget

As they learn how to make choices, let them deal with a limited budget. Allow some freedom to deal with decisions that are good and others that have a teachable outcome. Communication is still the key factor. 

Saving

Besides their regular chores, let them earn money for extra work. Remember to keep the pay consistent with the real world of labor and the cost of things. 

Encourage regular savings so they can work toward goals — that can even include checking and savings accounts. There all kinds of youth-oriented programs now offered by credit card companies that blend adult and youth interactions. 

Communication

Perhaps the most important is to give your children a stake in the farm or family. As they mature, allow them to participate in family business discussions. Then, listen to their input and honestly attempt to answer their questions. When adults share some control, it is a positive step for succeeding generations when the time comes to pass on a legacy. 

There are a wide variety of money topics and resources available as 4-H projects and activities. Do some additional homework and collect a few of the books to study when the snow flies. Another resource is Pinterest, and there are wonderful age-oriented ideas to include in daily routines there. You might be surprised at what you can learn and teach. 

Now, excuse me as I return to a lengthy game of Monopoly and a valiant financial effort to save Park Place from an over-ambitious grandson.

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Bonnie Ayars is a dairy program specialist at Ohio State University, coordinating all state 4-H dairy programs and coaching the OSU collegiate and 4-H dairy judging teams. She and her husband also own and operate a Brown Swiss and Guernsey cattle farm. In 1994, Bonnie was named Woman of the Year at the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wis.

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