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A Child’s Recipe for Dough

“Cookie Dough!” My three young cousins shouted when I asked what dessert they wanted. Not cookies, but pure, unadulterated cookie dough. How could I possibly deny those irresistibly adorable faces? Determined not to disappoint, I recruited my fourth-grade cousin, Kate, for the mission. 

We pulled out my favorite recipe for guidance and began collecting the ingredients. As we measured and combined ingredients, Kate kept up a steady stream of questions. She observed and even imitated how I measured the flour. She was hungry to learn. She reminded me how children’s brains are like sponges – they absorb information by watching, by asking questions, and ultimately, by practicing. 

Including children in baking is easy (even though it can get extra messy). Involving kids in financial conversations – that proves more difficult. However, here are some simple ways you can teach your kids the “ingredients” for a healthy financial life.

  • Ingredient No. 1: Value of Money (Earning Money)
    • Kids can learn that you earn money by doing chores at home or by doing small jobs like walking a neighbor's dog. You can also introduce them to the concept of how you earn money at your job.
  • Ingredient No. 2: Budgeting (Trade-Offs)
    • When you go shopping, involve your kids in making shopping lists and comparing prices. Allow them to make choices within a budget.
  • Ingredient No. 3: Wants vs Needs (Priorities)
    • When you talk about spending money as a family, explain that some things, like food and a place to live, are needs – life essentials. Other things, like toys or fancy clothes, are wants – things we'd like to have but can live without.
  • Ingredient No. 4: Long-Term Saving (Delayed Gratification)
    • If your child wants something expensive or a special event is coming up, talk to them about saving money over time. Consider a “savings account” even if it’s an envelope kept by mom or dad. When they want to buy something right now, remind them of their goal and how much they have saved, but let them make the choice.
  • Ingredient No. 5: Giving (Helping Others)
    • If you support a local organization, take a field trip with your kids to explain why and how you help them. Ask your children about causes they care about. Whether it's a little of your money or some of their own, or matching their donation, let them experience the joy of giving.

Ingredients are just that – ingredients. Through a recipe’s guidance, the ingredients are mixed in the proper amounts, in the correct order, to yield the optimal result. In the case of the cookie dough, the result was delicious (even if I did leave half the butter sitting in the microwave - Oops). While my cousins scooped giant spoonfuls of cookie dough, I put the cookie dough in the oven for the final ingredient – time. Like cookies, building a healthy financial life takes the right ingredients, a good recipe, and a lot of time. 

PYA Waltman Capital, LLC (“PYAW”) is an investment adviser registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. More information about PYAW’s investment advisory services can be found in its Form ADV Part 2, which is available upon request.  PYA-23-36.

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