Next Generation

Talking to kids about money

By April 25, 2011

This book offers tips on making money, saving it, spending it and helping it grow. Courtesy photo

This book offers tips on making money, saving it, spending it and helping it grow. Courtesy photo

Top 5 kids: Job-hunting tips for teens

1. Network: Tell your friends and family you’re looking for a job — they may know people who are looking for help.

2. Fill out an application: If you want to work at a restaurant or store, stop by during a quiet time and ask to speak to the owner or manager. Ask if they are hiring and if you can fill out an application.

3. Check company websites: Search the Internet for the company you’re interested in working for and check their job listings.

4. Visit student job sites: Check out sites like http://www.studentjobs.gov and other job databases.

5. Keep your eyes open: Be on the lookout for postings in cafes, community centers and your school’s guidance office.

Source: “The Teen Girl’s Gotta-Have-It Guide to Money”

Variny Paladino wasn’t exactly born to the field of financial literacy.

She spent the early years of her career in journalism and public relations, and, in fact, she says, “money didn’t come naturally to me.”

“I had to learn the hard way,” she added, “and I’m the first to admit it.”

But now that she’s since spent a decade working with the American Savings Education Council, the Jumpstart Coalition of Personal Financial Literacy and for public television’s “MoneyTrack,” she’s more than learned the ins and outs of financial literacy.

Not only that, she said, “I am passionate about the topic now, because of how empowering it can be.”

So when Seventeen magazine editor Jessica Blatt approached Paladino about co-authoring a book about money for teens, it was a no-brainer.

“We decided to create a book that we wish we had had when we were 12,” she said. “We started talking about what we know now as women … some of the challenges we’ve had and about confidence. We thought, ‘Why don’t we write a book that basically is a money primer, a career guide and also a self-help book?’ ”

The result: “The Teen Girl’s Gotta-Have-It Guide to Money.”

The colorful, easy-to-read book, loaded with tips, fun quizzes and worksheets, focuses on options for making money, ways to spend it wisely and, of course, how to save it.

“Money is not the answer to all of life’s problems,” the book says, “But money also isn’t something to feel bad about wanting or having. Money does matter. Because with money comes opportunities, freedom and choice.”

Chapter topics range from “Show me the Money,” which is all about ways to make money as teens, to “Being a Savvy Saver” and “Money Mishaps.”

Said one reviewer: “This lively guide makes financial information go down like ice cream — cool, refreshing, and easy to digest. Every teen girl’s gotta have this kind of advice.”

On Thursday, Paladino herself will be in Davis, speaking at César Chávez Elementary School on the topic of “Talking to Your Kids About Money.”

The event, sponsored by the Davis communitywide parent education committee, will take place at 7 p.m. in the César Chávez multipurpose room, 1221 Anderson Road.

Among the topics Paladino will discuss: How parents can introduce money topics into everyday activities; helping kids save and set financial goals; encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit in your child; and being a positive financial role model for your children.

The program is free and open to the public.

Paladino said she will focus not just on talking to teens, but to children of all ages (both boys and girls), and says she appreciates how the topic can be harder to broach than some might think.

“Parents don’t necessarily want to bring it up or know how to bring it up,” she said, “but it doesn’t have to be a blatant, difficult thing. It’s just something you’re aware of. It’s money mindfulness: placing an awareness in our children that money doesn’t grow on trees.”

For younger children, she said, it might be explaining exactly what you’re doing at the ATM, and where, in fact, that money comes from. Or what it means when you use a credit card: “It’s not free money!”

With her own young children, Paladino said, it’s pointing out different prices on a restaurant menu or on the grocery store shelves.

“Learning about money takes time,” she noted. “It’s a lifetime skill.”

And it doesn’t generally happen in school, she added, so it’s up to parents to be the teachers on this subject.


Acronyms for success

In “The Teen Girl’s Gotta-Have-It Guide to Money,” the authors simplify their theme down to the acronym WALLET:

Work: Working will not only give you spending and saving money, it will make you a more impressive candidate when you apply to college and teach you skills beyond what you can learn in school.

Plan Ahead: Think beyond the moment to your goals for next month, next year, and four years from now.

Love something: When you’re passionate about something — school, art, music, fashion, anything — you can make it a priority and spend money on the things that matter to you.

Let your money work for you: Don’t leave your savings in a piggy bank or shoebox at home. When you put it in a savings account or invest it, it will start earning money for you!

Explore your spending options: What’s the secret to making smart shopping decisions? Check out all of your options.

Touch lives: When you make your budget, consider setting aside some money to give your charity.

When talking to parents, Paladino said, she offers a separate acronym for them: TEENS

Talk: Integrate the topic of money into everyday conversations.

Example: You have to be a positive role model financially.

Educate: Don’t be embarrassed about what you don’t know, and don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know.

News: Encourage your kids to follow the news. Current events often focus on the economy and financial matters.

Support: Give your children the confidence to pursue their passions.

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at [email protected] and (530) 747-8051.

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

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