Big Business Wants Your Child's Milk Money
Accept the reality
By BabyZone and ParentZone Editors
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In a culture in which consumerism, status and physical attractiveness is prized, how do you keep your kids from becoming spending machines?
Accept the reality
Embrace it. It's here. Denial won't help. Sorry. Being aware of what marketing messages are being directed at your children will help you manage the consumer desire that will inevitably follow. Make it your business to know what "free educational programs" and/or sponsored materials your child sees on a regular basis, and discuss the underlying manipulation involved. If you are status conscious yourself, it may be eye opening for both of you.
Carpe the computer.
According to eMarketer.com - 42 percent of teens aged 14-17 will be making regular purchases online by 2003. Kids can't buy online without some sort of credit card or digital wallet - so limit their access to credit cards, and consider a Visa with pre-set limits. Stay up to date with all e-commerce developments, and check out the sites your kids visit on a regular basis. Set boundaries and discuss any online purchases before they happen.
Take on the media directly
Ever notice that Ally McBeal spent all day ogling her colleagues but never filled out her 401(k) forms? Can you imagine Justin Timberlake running a stock-picking contest for his fans? It just doesn't happen. We are surrounded by images of beautiful people for whom life is a serious of upscale purchases and pouty quests for love. Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to talk about money behavior in popular icons - not necessarily as criticism, but as a way to inject a dose of reality.
Establish an automatic savings program.
To give an allowance or not to give an allowance - that is a debate that will continue to rage on. Setting up a mandatory savings program is a great compromise. Agree on a percentage that all gifts, earned money or allowance money will go to your child's investment account. Crunch the numbers and enjoy what compound interest will bring over time. Hunt for investment ideas together, and stay current on the news.