Start young. It’s never too early to teach economic concepts, say the heroes. You can encourage savings, for example, by matching the money that your kids deposit into their bank account, says hip-hop financial educator Johnny Deas of Texas. A long-term payoff? “They grasp early on the benefit of taking full advantage of their future employer’s 401(k) match,” he says.
Discuss time, not just money. When talking with your kids about what you are or aren’t spending money on, make the choices more vivid by quantifying the necessary labor behind purchases, say Linda Hicks and Lisa Orr, Girls Inc. instructors in Indiana. “For a kid, the cost of an iPhone — in terms of the number of hours you or your parents have to work to buy one — has a much greater impact than simply knowing the price tag,” says Orr.
Watch spending at college. The best going-away speech for a college freshman is to make a budget for yourself and resist the urge to fit in by matching other students’ spending, says Faith Sandler of the Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis. Take advantage of everything you’ve actually already paid to receive: your meal plan, photocopying privileges, support services, and activities fees. “Finally, time is money,” says Sandler. “So do all that you can to stay on track to graduate.”