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How to Teach Kids About Money in 2 Simple Ways

Spring break is just around the corner and Canadian parents are already thinking about how to keep their kids entertained during that week off school. But, spring break can be more than just entertainment; it can also be a great opportunity to teach kids about money management and debt. For parents, managing kids’ expectations to keep them happy can be challenging, however, it’s also very important to not set yourself back too much financially simply to please your kids. You can do this by using spring break as a learning opportunity — to teach them about money, and, depending on age, introduce the concept of debt.

Last year, BDO did a spring break spending poll that found that the average parent was willing to spend $600 on March break activities. One in five respondents expected to use credit for those activities, and 40 per cent said it would take more than a month to pay off their spring break debt. With many families in the province carrying household debt — the average Ontarian has $1.71 in debt for every $1 of disposable income — it’ll be important for some to change expectations and dial back the spending during your family’s week off.

Here are two simple ways to teach your kids about money over spring break:

  1. Have a conversation about money using online resources

Kids of different ages will need different resources when it comes to learning about money. You wouldn’t introduce debt and bankruptcy to a six-year-old, but you can plant seeds about decision-making that leads to an avoidance of debt later in life.

If you’re looking for resources to start a conversation, the site Talk with our Kids About Money is fantastic. You can search a number of conversation-starters by age group, and they include popular movies, kid-friendly characters (Elmo!), and other easy ways to relate money to youngsters.

  1. Try making a spring break budget and make plans together

Start by asking what they want to do with their spring break. Do they want to get together with school friends? Is there a blockbuster movie they want to see? Work with your kids on a spring break spending plan and find activities that respects your set budget that works for the whole family.

To help your kids stay within budget for the week, recommend some free-to-cheap activities for your family. You can also look at leisure guides, local activities, day camps, and other things to fill their time based on what they want to do.

After selecting a few activities, you can reinforce how much money there is left to spend for the week, and let your kids know that the budget is limited. This basic budget works double time — it teaches your kids smart money management and keeps your spring break spending in check.

Having money conversations with your kids and planning activities together are two simple ways to ensure your spending isn’t set by expectations. It’ll help you set the ground rules on spring break spending, and ensure you’re not heading into the home stretch of the school year needing debt relief.

Have tips for parents who want to teach their kids about money and debt over spring break? Share them on social media using the hashtags #DebtSolutions, #Parenting, and #KidsAndMoney.

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