Setting the Right Example

If there’s one thing that parenthood has bestowed on us, it’s the desire to be a better person.  Suddenly with a pair (or pairs) of little eyes watching you closely, you become more aware of your habits (good and bad), your diet, your manners, and your temper – because someone is learning from you.  Well, there’s a biggie that most of us haven’t given much thought to: money.  For those of you with small ones, consider this time as good behavior training because even if your kids are too little to notice now, recent research indicates that children as young as 8 are ready to learn about money; and, the greatest impact on their knowledge is not any course they can take (if you can even find one) but on the behavior they observe at home.  The study went on to say that behavior modification in older children is difficult; the key is to catch them early.  So even though many of you have younger children, it’s never too early to get your household on track.  This way, the practices your children adopt will be healthy ones that will come naturally to you.  These simple first steps will lay a solid foundation:

  • When we have dessert, it’s served after dinner – When a child sees that Mom or Dad doesn’t always immediately gratify their retail purchasing urge, it teaches that not everything you want is needed, or some things are worth the wait.  With toddlers, the currency can be giving up the bottle or diapers to “buy” something that they want.  Having older children partake in saving for a portion of a pricey purchase can help teach them about setting goals and working toward achieving them, as well.  In addition, they will start to understand the sacrifices you make to afford your lifestyle.
  • Make sure your eyes aren’t bigger than your stomach – Showing children that bills are paid in full and on time sends them the signal that they need to keep a handle on how much they spend.  As you write the checks, let them know what you are doing and why you need to pay it on time.  If carrying credit card debt is something they don’t see in life, it makes them less likely to abuse the cards themselves.  This lesson is the single most important one to your future financial well-being.
  • If …. Then … Lessons – Show your kids the power of choices and the consequences to get across budgeting basics (e.g., “If we buy this flat screen TV, we won’t have enough for food.”).   
  • Do as I Do – There are no greater imitators than kids.  If they see you balancing the checkbook (even though they are not sure what that is), they will grow up knowing that is part of an adult routine.  As they get older, you can even enlist their help in calling out the check numbers.
  • Make Saving a Game – When they are really young, nothing is more fun than the clink of change in a piggy bank, or a change sorter.  As they get older, encourage kids to put away a portion of any gift money they get, as well as dedicating a portion to gifting.  When they are old enough to get a bank book of their own, take them down to the bank.  It will be a day they remember.
  • Story telling – Do you have a family member who overcame adversity (such as coming to this country with no money) only to live a successful life?  Let them know that Grandpa started up his business with nothing in his pocket.  Better yet, let him share the story.  Kids love to hear true stories, and they’ll be better off for having heard these words of wisdom.

Starting early in their lives will make all the difference, and it will be time well spent for all of you.  Remember:  They are watching.

Authored by: Anthony Dina Isola

Dina Isola, President of Real$martica, Inc. - COO and Director of Investor Relations, ATI Investment Consulting, Inc. Following a successful career in marketing communications in the financial industry, Dina and her husband, Anthony, founded a registered investment advisory firm, ATI Investment Consulting, Inc., and ultimately the idea for the educational company Real$martica, Inc. was born. In dealing with investors and hearing their concerns, she spearheaded ATI’s investor education efforts, coordinating with local libraries and townships to offer free investor education seminars. She has volunteered her time, writing financial articles and has conducted investor education classes geared to family financial matters. She is President of Real$martica, Inc. and is COO and Director of Investor Relations for ATI Investment Consulting, Inc. and personally handles all communications for both firms. She is active in her local business community and serves on the Brookhaven Business Advisory Council and is a member of the Three Village Chamber of Commerce. She earned a BA in English and Communications from Fairfield University. She is a registered investment adviser, and is a licensedreal estate salesperson in New York State.  Prior to founding Real$martica, Inc. she was a Vice President in charge of marketing communications for a privately-held investment management company in New York City.  She has worked in the financial industry since 1987. thumb_tony_isolasAnthony T. Isola,  President, ATI Investment Consulting, Inc. Anthony has married his passions, investing and education. He is President and founder of ATI Investment Consulting, Inc. (“ATI”) a registered investment advisory firm. His vast knowledge in matters of finance brings a well-rounded perspective to all that he does. As an educator, he has a natural ability to explain complicated economic and financial concepts and make the practical application of these concepts come to life. In working with clients, he recognized how overwhelming building a financial plan can be, especially when most investors are vulnerable due to their ignorance on financial matters. He prides himself on empowering investors to understand how to look out for their interests and not fall prey to financial arrangements that will take them off goal.  In addition to managing assets for clients, he has counseled investors on social security benefits, retirement income assessments, and college planning. He teaches history at Plainview Old Bethpage Middle School and oversees students’ participation in The Stock Market Game and financial literacy for the Plainview Old-Bethpage Central School District. He has taught financial related courses to children, parents and staff members in the district, as well as to Long Island residents. He holds a New York State Permanent Certification (in Social Studies). He earned a BA degree in Economics from Boston University and a MS degree in Secondary Education from Hofstra.  Prior to teaching, he worked as a foreign currency trader in New York City for large international banks.

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