Experts say parents should explain family finances to kids
When it comes to money and kids, Pam Calapa keeps it simple.
“If you want it, work for it,” the Marshfield mom tells her 12- and 15-year-old children.
Brianna Corsini, a freshman at Plymouth South High School, baby-sits to earn money for the things she wants. Her parents and teachers, she said, have drilled into her the importance of saving money. Plus, she reads the newspaper, so she knows the turmoil the country’s economy is in right now.
Corsini’s parents are among those using the ongoing national financial crisis as a lesson to their children, both in fiscal discipline and in what can happen when you aren’t responsible with your money.
“My parents are telling me that times are tight and they’ll say ‘no’ when I want to do more things or buy more stuff,” Corsini said. “They are teaching me to save.”
Plymouth North High School economics teacher, Dana Perlow, is teaching her class of seniors about credit cards, interest rates in relationship to loans, checking accounts, stocks and investments.
“We are talking about the banking industry in depth,” Perlow said.
Plymouth South sophomore Eric Campbell is analyzing the economy and the volatility of the stock market in history class. He shares a sentiment with millions of other Americans: “It’s scary.”
In addition to teaching kids at times like these, it’s also important to consider their fears, said Dr. Michael Kocet, department chairman and professor of counselor education at Bridgewater State College.
Kocet said parents should be open with their kids about family finances.
“Parents should encourage their kids to ask questions and to express their feelings,” he said. “This is a good time to teach kids about the economy and how some families may be affected by losing their home or job.”
Sandra Maguire of Norwell said she limits car trips because of high gas prices. She is trying to teach her 7-year-old daughter to appreciate money. “I want my daughter to understand that some people don’t have as much as others, like a house,” Maguire said.
Younger children are ripe for the learning, said Janet Tomajan, who oversees the Savings Make Cents program for the East Weymouth branch of South Shore Savings Bank.
Tomajan visits schools twice a month to talk to kids about saving and the pitfalls of using credit cards.
“Kids are learning quite a bit about money and savings. They mostly ask ‘Why give money to the bank?’ ‘Where does the money come from?’ ‘Is my money safe?’” Tomajan said.
For some, like the Calapas, the lessons are already paying off. The Calapa kids can earn money working at the family’s restaurant, North End Pizzeria, in Pembroke.
“My oldest is a saver because she knows how hard we work,” Calapa said.
The Patriot Ledger