28. June 2011
By Tracy Frizzell
Whether it is a few dollars earned at a lemonade stand, babysitting or a first job, summer is generally the time of year when youth have the most time and opportunity to earn money. While working and earning is an important experience for youth on its own, the habits that youth develop when they obtain their first pay (no matter how small) can often stick with them for years to come. Think back to your own teen years, how many of your friends frittered away their earnings on items like entertainment, clothing and electronics?
Check out these strategies to help children of all ages make the important connection between earning, saving and reaching their OWN financial goals.
1) Make a Plan: Work together with your child to make a financial plan for the summer. Taking the time NOW to work with your child to make a plan for handling their "income" can establish positive financial habits that will last a lifetime. Create a student budget. Visit www.EconCouncil.org to download a budget for students and for other printable saving activities.
2) Set a Goal: Visit www.YoungAmericaSaves.org and set savings goal with your child. The amount students save each month is less important than the fact that each child is SAVING on a regular basis. After enrolling in Young America Saves and setting a goal, students receive a monthly newsletter created by students just for other students.
3) Save First: Don’t be afraid to set a clear expectation with children. "Saving first" is always a great start and is a commonly used rule of thumb. While older students can understand saving a certain percentage of their earnings, it’s most important that even the youngest students learn to save SOMETHING before they spend.
4) Bank On It: Open a Savings Account for Your Child. Opening a savings account is a great first introduction to the financial system for any student. Savings accounts offer students a safe place for their money, pay interest and help develop a lifelong saving habit. Look for an account with a low minimum and no regular fees. Click here for more information on choosing a youth savings account, and here for information on teaching children to save.
5) Find a Youth Saver: Find a role model for your children. Whether it’s a neighbor, a sibling, a cousin or a local entrepreneur, students learn well from other students. Check out stories from young savers in On the Money Magazine at http://www.youngillinoissaves.org/student/.
Helping your young earners make the most of their first experience with earning can set them on the path towards financial independence! Whatever you do to help children get on the right track financially is a great investment in their future!
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Tracy Frizzell is the Executive Director of the Economic Awareness Council (EAC). The EAC is an Illinois non-profit organization that provides financial education to 11,000 individuals, primarily youth and family members each year. The EAC chairs the Young Illinois Saves coalition which includes over 40 Illinois organizations committed to increasing youth saving and financial literacy. Through Saves, over 1600 youth have made a commitment to save over $500,000. Ms. Frizzell serves on the Illinois Jumpstart Financial Education Board as well as the Illinois Army One Source Financial Literacy Team.