4 little piggies: Kid-friendly money lessons from Jeanette Ramnarine

It's never too early to teach your child about financial responsibility. But while lectures on weighty topics such as credit card interest rates are likely to be met with rolling eyes and big yawns, there are more light-hearted ways to get money messages across to your youngster.

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Just ask financial and children's expert Jeanette Ramnarine. The Canadian founder of www.fourpiggies.com, Ramnarine has developed a kid-friendly financial kit that teaches kids how to spend and save responsibly.

How does the 4 Little Pigs financial kit work?
The 4 Little Pigs Financial Kit for Kids comes with the award-winning book "The 4 Little Pigs" and four piggy banks for categories, such as spending, saving, sharing and schooling. Parents can read [to their children] the story about how a little boy named Caleb decides to use the money from each of his piggy banks during his first year of receiving an allowance. The piggy banks are cute, colourful and transparent so children can see how much money they have in each piggy bank.

Why is it so important for parents to teach their children about money?
Managing money and being financially responsible are skill sets that we all need as adults. By teaching smart money management skills at an early age, parents are setting their children up to become financially successful in life. It's not necessarily about how much money we have, but the decisions we make with our money and how we choose to manage it that counts.

What are some tricks that can help parents teach their children about wise spending?
Discussing needs and wants early on will help children decide if what they are spending their money on is indeed a ‘need' or a ‘want.' Children are bombarded with advertisements from an early age so having an open discussion about the intent, credibility and truth of advertisements is also a great way to have children make informed decisions on what they choose to spend their money on.

How can parents encourage children to share their money?
There are always opportunities to help others and find ‘teachable moments' through watching the news together, reading the paper and volunteering in your community. Children find empowerment in being part of the solution and usually want to do something to help. Our children have a way to help through the use of their SHARING piggy bank and have often been inspired to help after finding out about a charity organizing a fundraising walk, the need at our local food bank and other events going on in the world around them.

Are there approaches parents should avoid when teaching children about money? For example, unnecessarily scaring them about debt?
Parents need to set a good example in successful financial management. It doesn't do any good to try to teach your child good money management and budgeting skills if you, yourself, need help in that regard. It's always a good idea to have a financial planner take a look at your overall financial situation and make sure that you have a plan before trying to teach your children skills in successful money management.

Can teaching your child financial responsibility help them in other aspects of their life?
Teaching financial responsibility also gives your child skills in decision making, delayed gratification, pride of ownership and accountability. These are basic skills that can help [them] in many aspects of their life as they grow and mature into responsible adults.

See related: 10 ways to teach kids about smart credit use; Bite-size financial tips for busy parents

Updated March 3, 2011

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