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"Forming Good Financial Habits at a Young Age" by Julie Jason

Originally published: April 7, 2023 (distributed by Andrews McMeel Syndication)

I've been thinking about writing a book for young children, and I want to encourage you to give me a hand. The intended audience would be children ages 7 to 10. As a proponent of financial literacy education, I think that's the right age range to start. The question is whether parents would consider such a book worthwhile for their children. 

     First, let me share why I think ages 7 to 10 makes sense. Then, I'll tell you what I'm looking for. 

     Parents are the source of wisdom and inspiration for children -- there is no doubt. Studies support that view. Eighty-three percent of kids ages 8 to 10 go to their parents for "advice about money," according to the 2022 Parents, Kids & Money Survey by T. Rowe Price, a global investment management firm (tinyurl.com/375p5ays). 

     That makes sense, of course. Kids are dependent on their parents for not only their welfare, but also for their ability to learn and form good financial habits. 

     In fact, some would say that financial literacy education starts when the child learns how to count. "Knowing that parents are our first teachers, families can subscribe to a school of thought that once children start counting, it is the beginning of financial literacy," explained Frances Marie Gipson, a clinical associate professor at Claremont Graduate University (tinyurl.com/bdeeeeh4). 

     Education leads to habit formation. 

     As two University of Cambridge behavior experts reported: "Since young children are dependent on parents and have few material goods or monetary resources that they control independently, it is the basic approaches and skills which are modelled, discussed and demonstrated by parents and other significant adults, that are likely to be influential 'levers,' instilling efficient habits and practices." (Dr. David Whitebread and Dr. Sue Bingham, 2013, "Habit Formation and Learning in Young Children," tinyurl.com/mr9bmkay.)

     I further would argue that modeling risky behavior is also a lesson learned: parents "keeping up with the Joneses"; going into debt to pay for vacations; not understanding budgeting; being attracted to get-rich-quick schemes; and, for some families, failing to support charities. 

     Positive lessons can begin early. Whitebread and Bingham point out that by ages 4 to 5, children understand that they need to pay for merchandise, but they may not understand that coins have different values. By age 7, a child is typically "able to cognitively 'represent' value." 

     Recognizing that brains continue to develop through adulthood, the first eight years are important in building "a foundation for future learning, health and life success," explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (tinyurl.com/5vxsmfp9).

     The ultimate goal is to help young children start to develop good financial habits. Could a book help parents set up learning experiences? 

     Famed investor Warren Buffett read "One Thousand Ways to Make $1,000," a book he borrowed from the local library, at the age of "7 or so." (2017 HBO documentary "Becoming Warren Buffett," tinyurl.com/5n8m9bmy). He could certainly be a good role model for teaching children the value of hard work and persistence. 

     "As parents overtly teach their children about key financial principles, their children will be more prepared to engage in healthy financial behaviors in emerging adulthood," wrote the authors of the article "Parental Financial Education During Childhood and Financial Behaviors of Emerging Adults" (tinyurl.com/3fb38nuy).

     I think everyone will agree that "[t]he life-long benefits of teaching children good money habits make it well worth the effort," as Sharon Danes and Tammy Dunrud wrote in "Children and Money: Teaching Children Money Habits for Life" (tinyurl.com/2dcn8ct4). 

     Now, let me pose my "ask." My goal is to share personal life lessons in the book. I'm wondering if you have a personal story to tell that can help young readers learn "key financial principles." What might those principles be? How did you learn them? Write to me at readers@juliejason.com. I'll be in touch. 

To read Julie Jason's books, go to: https://juliejason.com/author/julies-books.