with Liz Weston Pulliam
Q. Please tell us a little about your background?
A. I'M A PERSONAL FINANCE COLUMNIST FOR MSN MONEY, WHICH REACHES ABOUT
12 MILLION UNIQUE USERS A MONTH. I ALSO WRITE A SYNDICATED NEWSPAPER
COLUMN THAT RUNS IN THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, THE CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER
AND MANY OTHER PAPERS, AND I'VE AUTHORED TWO BOOKS, "YOUR CREDIT
SCORE" AND "DEAL WITH YOUR DEBT." I'M A GRADUATE OF
THE CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER TRAINING PROGRAM AS WELL.
Q. What drew you to writing about kids and money?
A. I WANT TO HELP KIDS GET THE RIGHT START AND HELP PARENTS, TOO.
I GOT EVEN MORE INTERESTED IN WRITING ABOUT MONEY AFTER WE HAD OUR
OWN CHILD FOUR YEARS AGO.
Q. Who introduced you to saving and/or money and at what age?
A. MY MOM. I DON'T REMEMBER AT WHAT AGE I GOT AN ALLOWANCE, BUT I
REMEMBER ALWAYS HAVING A PIGGY BANK AND KNOWING FROM AN EARLY AGE
THAT I SHOULD SAVE FOR A RAINY DAY AND NEVER PAY CREDIT CARD INTEREST.
Q. Do you have a favorite place or container to save change?
If so, would you tell us a little about it?
A. IT'S A GLASS JAR IN OUR CLOSET THAT GETS EMPTIED OUT PERIODICALLY
FOR GIFTS AND OTHER TREATS.
Q. What do you think the biggest challenge parents face when
it comes to teaching children about money?
A. MOST PARENTS DON'T KNOW THAT MUCH THEMSELVES! BUT IT'S LIKE ANY
OTHER ASPECT OF PARENTING--YOU CAN LEARN AND IF YOU'RE PERSISTENT,
YOU CAN IMPART SOME KNOWLEDGE.
Q. What's your best tip for parents on teaching children about
A. THERE ARE SO MANY GOOD ONES...PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT IS TEACHING
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WANTS AND NEEDS. (ALONG THAT LINE, WE SOMEHOW
MANAGED TO TEACH OUR 4-YEAR-OLD TO HATE COMMERCIALS--WHEN ONE COMES
ON SHE DEMANDS WE FAST-FORWARD THROUGH IT. GOOD THING, TOO, BECAUSE
IF SHE ACTUALLY WATCHES ONE SHE IMMEDIATELY STARTS ASKING FOR WHATEVER
Q. What's the biggest mistake you think parents make when it
comes to teaching children about money?
A. NOT GIVING CHILDREN AN ALLOWANCE. KIDS NEED A LOT OF PRACTICE IN
MANAGING MONEY AND THEY NEED TO MAKE THEIR OWN MISTAKES. IT'S ALSO
THE PERFECT COMEBACK TO THE INCESSANT, "I WANT THAT!" "WELL,
HONEY, DO YOU HAVE THE MONEY TO BUY IT?"
Q. Are you pro allowance? Briefly, why or why not?
A. VERY PRO. AS NOTED ABOVE, KIDS NEED PLENTY OF HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE
HANDLING MONEY. I BELIEVE ALLOWANCES SHOULD START AS SOON AS KIDS
UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPT THAT MONEY BUYS THINGS, AND OVER TIME THEY
SHOULD BE HANDED MORE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN EXPENSES SO THAT
BY THE TIME THEY'RE IN HIGH SCHOOL, THEY'RE TAKING CARE OF MOST IF
NOT ALL OF THEIR EXPENSES, FROM CAR INSURANCE TO PROM CLOTHES. THEY'RE
GOING TO BE DOING IT THE NEXT YEAR IN COLLEGE, AND I'D RATHER BE ABLE
TO SUPERVISE WHILE THEY'RE STILL AT HOME.
Q. At what age do you think credit card education should begin?
A. AS SOON AS YOUR CHILD NOTICES YOU PAYING FOR SOMETHING WITH A CREDIT
CARD, YOU CAN BEGIN TALKING ABOUT IT.
Q. At what age do you think parents should allow children to
have a credit card?
A. I'M NOT THERE YET WITH OUR DAUGHTER, BUT I COULD SEE ADDING HER
AS AN AUTHORIZED USER WHEN SHE'S IN HIGH SCHOOL AND PERHAPS HAVING
HER OWN CARD AS A SENIOR. SHE'LL BE GETTING HER OWN CARDS IN COLLEGE
AND I WANT HER TO UNDERSTAND HOW TO USE THEM PROPERLY--AS A CONVENIENCE,
NOT A WAY TO LIVE BEYOND HER MEANS--BEFORE THEN.
Q. If you could only give a child one piece of advice on money,
what would it be?
A. PUT ASIDE A LITTLE BIT OF EVERY DOLLAR YOU MAKE, NO MATTER WHAT.
(A CLOSE SECOND WOULD BE 'NEVER CARRY A CREDIT CARD BALANCE).
Q. What's your favorite family activity?
A. A DAY AT THE BEACH. SUN, FUN AND A VERY CONTENTED, SANDY FAMILY
AT THE END OF THE DAY.
Q. What's your favorite money quote or saying?
A. Money is like manure; it's not worth a thing unless it's spread
around encouraging young things to grow.
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