The ABCs of Money: 8 Summertime Money Lessons

By Susan Beacham

Summer is the perfect time to teach children about money. There's more time in the day and more energy to get things done. Here are some tips for teaching money lessons. Choose one or two to teach each month.

1. Use cash.
We live in a "plastic" world, but cash and coins are still a key part of teaching children good money management skills. Using cash teaches kids the value of money - and that when money is gone, it's really gone.

Set up a savings account for your kids. Offer to match their contributions as a way to keep them motivated.

3. Teach your children how to set goals for their money.
Have your child draw a picture of the bike he wants or write about the video game he covets. Keep it on the refrigerator so he always remembers what he's working toward.

4. Teach children the difference between needs and wants.
Have them make a list of their wants and keep it until a birthday or special treat comes due. By that time, chances are they will no longer want the things on the list.

5. Encourage your kids' entrepreneurial spirit.
Help them start a business, whether it is babysitting or walking neighbors' dogs. Then watch how much more carefully they spend the money they have earned than the cash that comes out of your wallet.

6. Help your kids help others.
Start a conversation about things your children love - animals, sports, books. Then help them research organizations working in those areas - an animal shelter, a sports program or library - and how they can help by donating money or volunteering.

7. Start an allowance.
Choose some expenses you now pay for your child, total up the cash and give him that much each month. Let him or her manage that money. Allowance is the first step toward learning how to take personal responsibility for money decisions and budgeting.

8. Model good behavior.
Children are keen observers of our behavior. Use the summer to show them that you pay bills on time, use cash rather than credit whenever possible and take them with you to make savings deposits.

Cut out this list and make a date with your partner to talk about these tips. Choose one tip to work on each month and your kids will have a productive summer.

Susan Beacham is the founder and CEO of Money Savvy Generation, which provides products and services to help parents and educators teach children money management skills. Email her at out ABCs of Money Archives for more tips on raising money-smart kids.