12/18/13 by Rennie Detore
When it comes to teaching kids the value of a dollar, there's no such thing as "too early."
Those initial financial lessons cascade across childhood and plant seeds of prosperity and success at a young age. Those same lessons have the proverbial ripple effect as far as children not solely understanding financial responsibility but also the development of ancillary characteristics such as accountability, work ethic and communication.
Those aforementioned traits are rightfully deemed paramount by parents as an integral part of transforming a thoughtful and studious child into a well rounded adult.
As simple as the formula sounds, the implementation of the plan is anything but smooth.
Today's generation of children are inundated with a bevy of distractions such as video games, smart phones, computers and tablets. The combination of technology and equally exhausted and overworked parents translates into a disconnect between mom and dad dishing out good, old fashioned chores and teaching kids that hard work isn't optional.
If you don't quite believe that sentiment, ask a child if they receive an "allowance," and you might be surprised to hear the answer. Not only is the response probably a "no," but you'd be hard pressed to find a child that has heard the term "allowance" as it relates to money.
It wasn't that long ago when kids were bestowed a few bucks every week in the form of cash as a direct benefit of completing such tasks as taking out the garbage, washing dishes or mowing the grass. That money, in turn, afforded kids the option of saving it, sharing it or spending it at their discretion.
Today's potentially stressed and fatigued parent isn't inclined to adopt an allowance system, but rather simply hands over money at will given that protocol is easier, less difficult to monitor and allows parents to essentially skip delving into a discussion with kids about the importance of financial acumen.
A recent Charles Schwab survey stunningly noted that almost 70% of parents feel unprepared to give teens guidance about investing or money in general. That correlates with another appalling statistic: the average savings account per household is almost zero in comparison to a debt of more than $7,000.
If parents are fundamentally minimizing the value of teaching kids about money or simply skipping that step altogether, they're only continuing a cantankerous trend of cultivating the next generation of adults that are mired in the same mind numbing, oblivious money mindset.
Gregg Murset is the Chief Executive Officer of MyJobChart, a web site that empowers parents and ultimately maps out a create a chore system for kids, who are rewarded for a completed task in the form of points. Kids then have the option of spending, sharing or savings those points.
Instead of treating technology as the enemy, MyJobChart implements an integrated web site and phone application that allows kids to log on, track their work, check off chores they've done and even spend their points on merchandise a specific MyJobChart marketplace on Amazon.com.
What makes MyJobChart so unique and remarkable is its ability to take the antiquated idea of an allowance and give it a marvelous makeover that makes it practical, potent and enjoyable for its users.
More importantly, MyJobChart bridges the gap between parents and children when it comes to financial flailing and thus starts kids off in the right direction when it comes to money management.
"I've worked with successful people for the past 20 years, and two things always boil to the top," Murset recalls. "They work hard and make good money decisions. Principles of saving, spending and sharing in a smart way is a foundational thing; once you put it in place and understand at an early age, it changes the trajectory of your life."
Finally, a sign that things may be looking up.
Parents who struggle to find the time to work, make dinner, buy groceries and drive kids from one activity to another are desperately in need of a financial ally, such as MyJobChart, and something that adds much needed structure to the chaos that is day to day life and robust daily routines.
"A lot of families say it (MyJobChart) helps cut down on harping and harassing of kids to do things. It is easy and engaging and gives kids some autonomy. Accountability and responsibility mean so much when it comes to teaching a kid," says Murset, who also has seen how his own creation has created an at home environment that is satisfying.
"I haven't taken out the trash for two years, and I love that one of my kids are accountable for that," Murset proudly decrees.
Parents who use MyJobChart find those same results equally rewarding and relaxing, along with surprisingly enlightening, especially when their child begins watching how money is spent and actually is able to discern between a bad buying decision or one that is financially sound.
As much as mom and dad have to take control of teaching their kids about money, they're not the only ones that fall woefully short when it comes to dishing the dirt on how to efficiently spend, save or manage assets.
"I think parents are busier now than they've ever been," says Murset, in response to how or why money misgivings with today's kids seems unusually dreadful. "I think that (busy parents) is part of it, but I think another part is some reason parents think schools are teaching that stuff (money managing) and that's not the case."
You could perhaps pinpoint the void of teaching finances at an early age as part of school curriculum as a smaller aspect of a larger problem when it comes to money as a whole. That previously mentioned "allowance" might seem a bit passe given that today's society, parents included, is a "buy now, pay later" ideology that has children watching parents simply swipe credit or debit cards without any real knowledge of money or how it works.
"There's no more 'nickels and dimes' and in a new way of spending money, it's all electronic," Murset says. "You'd give your kids four quarters or three dollar bills and you had a piggy bank on the dresser. Now, it's a card swipe thing."
Murset says MyJobChart lends itself to not necessarily bringing the piggy bank out of retirement but rather using an applicable and modern "points" system. Kids understand the points concept, and MyJobChart allows children to turn points into real money with resounding and remarkable results.
In the end, any discussion regarding money or financial gumption needs to be just that, an open ended conversation between parents and kids. According to Murset, gone are the days of long winded, counterproductive lectures or hard nosed speeches from mom or dad with little or no feedback from kids on various matters, money included.
"Kids have to understand the why or it falls flat," Murset says. "You don't have to lecture (as parents). If have you have conversations, you don't have to lecture. For example, a typical prom is now $1,100; that's craziness but there needs to be a straight conversation about that (savings, sharing, spending, etc.)."
Technology, much like MyJobChart illustrates, doesn't always have to be the "bad guy" in this situation, although it certainly plays the part well.
"So many kids are struggling with work ethic; their time is being sucked in by Facebook, social media or video games," Murset says. "The alternative is teaching them work and, at the end of the day, life is work, and use technology in a good way to facilitate meaningful conversations."
And, naturally, make sure those impactful chats start sooner than later.
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