Teens learn the value of money

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 5 2013 4:00 a.m. MST

“I’m good about managing my money and not blowing it,” she said.

Her mother, Heidi Richardson Valdez, said those values came from her parents and grandparents.

The married mother of three said her grandfather, who was an advertising executive, was a “self-made millionaire,” who accumulated his wealth by living frugally and saving voraciously.

“He was a saver and a hard worker who pinched pennies, but enjoyed other things (like) traveling,” Richardson Valdez said. “He was a big believer in always saving at least 10 percent of your earnings.”

She also said he valued leaving behind something for your grandchildren, not your children. Her parents passed those same values down to their four children, she said.

“That’s how I was raised. You save money, make good investments … and never carrying credit,” she said. “Anything on your credit card, you pay off every month.”

Richardson Valdez said each of her three daughters is learning those same lessons, beginning at 7 or 8 years old.

“(By that age) they really get that they are saving and spending money,” she said. “When they talk about things that they really want, then we talk about saving.”

For example, when her 14-year old daughter, Emma, wanted a high-end camera for Christmas last year, they made a pact that they would help her buy it.

“She had saved about $300, and asked if she saved half of the (nearly $800) cost of the camera, 'Would Santa kick in the rest?'” Richardson Valdez said. “I said that was a great idea. So she was able to get the camera.”

Because they don’t give their girls an allowance, she said they all work to save their money — even their 11-year old, Eliza.

“I just feel that if they are chipping in around the house, then I can give them money to do things with their friends,” she said.

Learning by doing

While some households have the good fortune of having learned financial responsibility from previous generations, others have to develop those habits on their own.

Nedra Hotchkins of West Jordan was the first in her family to graduate from college. She said growing up in a working class family in Oklahoma, there was little discussion about saving or investing money.

So she and her husband have developed their own money management ideals to pass along to their 16-year old son, Osiris, and 10-year old daughter, Isis.

“Take out 10 percent for God, half for savings and the rest (they) can choose to do with as (they) please,” she said. The kids have had savings accounts since about the age of three, she said. As they get older, they are able to take more responsibility for how the money in the account is handled, she said.

“For Osiris, understanding that things cost money and that saving for the long-term or in case something happens is important,” Hotchkins said. She also said her son is learning to be more discerning about how he spends his money.

“Once he had $100 and went into a hat store and bought two hats for about $60 — which was more than half of his spending money,” she said. “He bought them, but by the time we left the mall, he had returned one of the hats saying, 'Mom, it’s not worth it.'”

She said he is learning to look for sales or save up for big-ticket items that he really wants.

For his part, the West Jordan High junior said he is learning to appreciate the value of saving, and how to best spend disposable income.

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