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Want to Help Your Preschooler Understand What "Saving" Means? Try This

By Motley Fool Staff - Updated Oct 9, 2017 at 4:28PM

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This simple activity you can do with your youngster may sound like a recipe for disaster, but it’s really about giving them the key ingredients for impulse control.

In this Motley Fool Answers video segment, Alison Southwick and Robert Brokamp are joined by personal finance guru, journalist, and author Beth Kobliner, whose most recent best-seller is Make Your Kid A Money Genius (Even If You're Not): A Parents' Guide for Kids 3 to 23. It offers a raft of straightforward advice for teaching your children the skills and habits that will lead them to lifelong financial stability. And if you're looking for a place to begin, she suggests you start at the "scariest" part of the grocery store.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on Sept. 12, 2017.

Alison Southwick: So here's how we're going to help you make your kid a money genius when it comes to saving. Again, your book goes into saving, investing, and all these different topics around money, but we're just going to focus on saving today. So what is an activity that you can do with your preschooler -- let's just start young -- to get them to understand saving?

Beth Kobliner: This is going to sound terrifying to anyone who has a preschooler, but go to a supermarket with your preschooler and at the checkout line, let them peruse the candy and then say no. The University of Minnesota did a study and found when we say no to our kids at the checkout line -- when we don't give in to the candy, or gum, or the crying and screaming for whatever they want -- those kids who are said no to are more likely to manage debt in a much better way when they're older. It makes sense, right? Because they have impulse control. They're building that impulse control muscle.

So, I would say for parents, go to the store. Don't leave your kid home, because that's avoiding it. Say no with authority, and if you say it enough times, they'll learn. "OK, it's not really worth screaming and crying because the last four times it didn't work." You have four kids. You know.

Robert Brokamp: Mm-hmm.

Kobliner: But I feel like it's so important to be consistent. I've said this to people and many people said, "Thank you for empowering me to say no to my child." But I think it's important because there's saving money and then there's dissavings, which is going into debt and just spending all your money. And a lot of little kids love to spend money already, so I think that's one of the important ones. Saying no at the checkout line.

Southwick: I think I'm more terrified of all the judging from the other Whole Foods' moms I'm going to get when Hanna has a meltdown.

Kobliner: Yeah. First of all, Whole Foods. That's what you get. But I also think that there is that feeling as a parent. "Oh, I don't want to seem like I'm doing [something] bad." Who cares? Just say to yourself, "This is better for my child." And there's so much we would do for our child. If it was better for him to spend a dollar every time, we would all do it freely. But it's actually better for him or her to say no.

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