One of the nicest perks about writing this column is the response I get from readers. This week you weigh in on a variety of subjects that I've written about recently: teaching kids to save, paying for grades, and lessons learned from money-wise parents.
• Saving pennies. One of the things we did in my home when I was growing up was to save pennies and put them into a pre-addressed envelope to send them off to a small agricultural credit union. If I missed a "payment" after the age of 12, I was grounded by my parents for three weeks. Ouch!
• I was nailed once when I was a junior in high school, and as a result I missed playing a very important football game as a very important running back. Fortunately, we won by three points. It was a lesson I never forgot. My mother was my best cheerleader from the stands, but, boy, was she a tough lady when it came to lessons about money.
• High expectations. Something is horribly wrong if kids only do well in school because they're paid. My child knows that she can't go out with friends unless she's doing what she should be doing schoolwise. Going out is a privilege that has to be earned.
And if you're doing your job as a parent, you're instilling some pride that makes kids want to do well on their own. My daughter knows that regardless of whether she gets paid she is expected to perform at a high level. Her mother and I are both educated and have very good jobs, and we expect her to do the same.
• Lessons from parents. I wish I'd learned so much more about money from my parents when I could still access the advice that was no doubt available to me. I just didn't know it or appreciate it at the time. In my life, no loss has caused me more pain and sadness than my mother's passing 18 years ago, when I was 36 years old. My dad, the businessman and financier of the family, passed way 10 years before that.
Through no fault of her own, Mom was able to give my five siblings and me little in the way of direct monetary help except to say, "Remember to always save for a rainy day." Another favorite: "You'd better hang on to that money. You never know when you might really need it."Fortunately, I've not experienced true financial desperation, perhaps as a result of her well-worn cliches! How I wish I could turn back the clock and pick the brains of both of my parents to ask more questions and get more answers.
Janet Bodnar is deputy editor of Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine and the author of "Raising Money Smart Kids" (Kaplan, $17.95) and "Money Smart Women" (Kaplan, $15.95). Send your questions and comments to [email protected]