For a lot of families with children, the holidays the most stressful time of the year. Endless demands for toys and video games place a heavy financial burden on parents who have trouble saying no, and a season that's supposed to be about love and family often ends up being about credit card debt.
One way to make it about family again while also fighting the financial woes associated with it is to use it as a time to teach kids about money. When I was a little kid, I learned a lot about money from some of my favorite children's book: especially the Berenstain Bears. If you have kids between the ages of 4 and 8, there are 3 great titles in the series that will help you impart some priceless life lessons about money:
The Berenstain Bears' Trouble with Money -- Brother and Sister Bear look for jobs to earn money for a popular arcade game, and learn some important lessons about working, saving, and spending.
The Berenstain Bears Get the Gimmes -- I'll never forget this book because whenever my brother and I wanted something my parents deemed unnecessary, they asked us if we were "developing a case of the gimmes". In this wonderful book, Brother and Sister Bear want everything in sight and throw tantrums when they can't have it -- until Mama and Papa Bear teach them the importance of appreciating the things they already have.
The Berenstain Bears' Dollars and Sense -- Brother and Sister Bear are experts on spending, but thoroughly in need of some guidance on saving and managing a budget. This one even comes with a special checkbook to help kids budget and learn about money.
At just $3.99 each on Amazon, these belong in the library of every family in America. I wonder how much lower the average consumer's debt would be if they'd been exposed to these -- I'm serious, they're that good.
Another good contribution to the field of children's books about money is Dave Ramsey's "Life Lessons With Junior" series, also available on Amazon.com. Through trial and error and the guidance of his parents, a young boy learns a new lesson in each story: Work, spending, debt, giving, integrity, saving, and contentment.
Stories have always been one of the best ways for young children to learn important life lessons, and these books are some of the best for teaching one of life's most important but most ignored lessons: the management of money.
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