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We know that parents play an influential role in the money habits of your students and yet it is often a taboo subject at home. I am interested in hearing about ways that you have been able to overcome that. We created an activity that might work in colder climes to have students develop strategies to cut family heating bills (http://nextgenpersonalfinance.org/lesson/read-how-much-can-you-cut-your-heating-bill/). Other ideas?

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Posted by Tim Ranzetta
Asked on January 14, 2016 9:37 pm
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Saving money on the bills is important. Age appropriate activities that kids can understand will help them grasp what money management is about. A lot of activities are not taught but caught by how parents interact with money each day. Kids will follow that example which follows the rule of “monkey see, monkey do”. Parents needs to be more engaged with their own dollars so kids can learn good financial habits. Using the credit card to pay for something at the store is fine but that may be the only part the child will see. The parent may be doing great by paying the balance in full each month to avoid interest charges but the child may not see that part of the process. Finding an activity where they see that whole picture of paying for things will help them catch and use the skills parents are teaching.

It is hard to say how that can translate to a specific activity in the classroom with credit; however, using an envelope system to budget and pay for things with cash could help. Parents could set aside a set amount for grocery each month that they use and spend to show their kids how much things cost. Also having the kids help with the shopping list and looking at the prices they pay to make sure they are on target with the budget they created for that grocery store visit.

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Posted by kossjoe1999
Answered on January 16, 2016 12:07 pm
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I do a month-long budgeting project in class that includes some parent encouragement. The unit starts with a short paper that has students evaluate their current source(s) of income, state 2 short-term goals, 2 long-term goals, and their overall thoughts on their personal money management. At that same time, the students create an Excel spreadsheet in which they are to enter every bit of money coming in or out of their lives for a one month period. The month ends with a second paper reviewing their spending and savings habits, reflecting on their goals, and stating what changes could/should be made.

Here is how I encourage parent involvement. I email a letter home to the parents introducing the project and encouraging them to talk to their students about it. I lay out the importance of discussing financial expectations, and parent involvement. Then at the end of the unit, I send most of the completed projects (both papers and the spreadsheet) home to the primary address with another letter asking parents to review the project and discuss it with their student. Every semester I have a few students who write about money problems that their parents have, or other similar personal issues. I do not send those projects home out of respect for the student and maintaining their trust. After the others are mailed out, I simply pull those students aside and hand them their projects explaining why theirs did not get sent home.

I have done this for 10 years and I have only had one negative parent response. A mom was embarrassed by their personal financial situation and didn’t think that I should be asking for that information. Other than that, I have received dozens of thank yous and positive responses. It gives parents a way to start a conversation based on real spending and saving patterns.

I think the biggest thing to keep in mind is maintaining the student’s trust. I make sure they understand that I have seen just about every financial situation there is to see, and I am not here to judge. I spend a lot of time explaining that everyone’s situation is different and that’s okay as long as we can apply the concepts learned in class about saving and planning how we spend.

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Posted by kherrild
Answered on February 2, 2016 11:40 am
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