Finance for Tots: How to Forgo Ice Cream for a Toy

New York Times - One of the best things about being around preschool-age children is that they are a blank slate awaiting your imprint. All of the big questions come up before first grade — God and death, jail and fairies — and most 4-year-olds will believe pretty much any answer you give them.

One of the best things about being around preschool-age children is that they are a blank slate awaiting your imprint. All of the big questions come up before first grade — God and death, jail and fairies — and most 4-year-olds will believe pretty much any answer you give them.

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“I think there is a lot about this process that is a learned skill,” said Russell N. James III, who teaches in the financial planning division at Texas Tech University. “It’s like soccer or other physical skills, where you can coach them. And you want to give them opportunities where they can exercise those skills.”

That’s where the piggy banks and the jars come in. And when Mr. James’s 6-year-old daughter coveted the Nook e-reader that her older sister got for Christmas, he told her that if she did not touch the holiday money she had received from her grandparents for 30 days he would give her the rest of the money she needed for the Nook.

“A year would be too long,” he said. “Because you want them to practice a lot and do it several times under different circumstances.”

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