Make Smart Spending, Saving a Family Resolution

With the economic crisis hitting everyone in the pocketbook, it’s  more important than ever for parents to talk to their children  about how to manage money. New Year’s — a prime resolution time for millions of Americans — is a great time for children and their parents to learn better spending and savings practices together.

Forty-six percent of American families hold a credit card balance according to the U.S. Census Bureaus 2004 statistics. And in 2007, more than 800,000 bankruptcy cases were filed in the United States.

Managing money is a family affair. By resolving to set financial goals and working together to practice management, families can enjoy independence and security. “Parents and their children can learn from and challenge each other to plan better ways to use the money they earn and save,” says Scott Oberkrom, director of Community Investments at American Century Investments.

As families sit down to discuss their financial resolution, they need to determine how the changes will affect each member. Once the resolution is finalized, post it in a public place so all members can see it every day. Visit to learn more on how to make sure resolutions stick.

Some tips families can incorporate into their smart money management resolution include:

  1. Financial responsibility starts with examples from home.
    Parents need to evaluate their budgets and make wise spending choices - don’t buy a new speed boat if you just told the kids you couldn’t afford to get them a new iPod. Share the family budget with your children to demonstrate how money doesn’t grow on trees and the family has regular expenses that must be paid.
  2. Set up allowances for children.
    Once your children are old enough to understand basic math, an allowance can help them learn how to budget, spend and save. Parents can also set up allowances for themselves. Showing the children that Mom and Dad fit haircuts, buying lunch or shopping for new clothes for themselves within a weekly cash budget gives children the best example of wise money management.
  3. Take a trip to the bank and organize savings accounts.
    Children — and many adults, it seems — need to be taught how to save money. Take the whole family to the bank to set up savings accounts. Decide as a team what goal you’re saving toward. Parents should consider saving to help secure the family in case of a financial crisis. Kids’ accounts could be earmarked for college tuition or to buy their first car.
  4. Teach kids creative ways to earn money.
    A hobby could become an income-generator for all members of the family. Perhaps you have a tremendous green thumb. And maybe you have your children help tend the vegetables and pull the weeds in the garden. The entire family can turn this hobby into a small income by taking the produce to farmers markets or setting up a neighborhood stand.

All New Year’s resolutions take work, but they can be accomplished if all family members share in the effort.

“Setting goals, both at New Year’s and throughout the year, is one way people can achieve their dreams,” says James Stowers, founder of American Century Investments.

Make 2009 the year your family resolves to take charge of your money management together. Visit for tips.