By Jamie Kanner
Business at the family dinner table? Absolutely!
We have four children ranging in age from 22-13, so managing family dinnertime conversation was always tricky. Usually, the loudest one would get all the attention. So to give everyone a “chance to be heard” we started having a dinner-time theme. Sometimes it was gratitude, a contribution you made, a friend you helped or something you learned in school.
Giving your children a focus for a family meal can be a boost to their communication skills, critical thinking, and is a great way to feel important and heard.
We started a Sunday night BUSINESS THEME. I give my kids all day to read any article from the business section of the Wall Street Journal and everyone gets a turn to share at dinner. They must give their opinion and whether or not they agree or disagree with author’s perspective.
Top 5 ways to help your kid’s rock their business knowledge at the dinner table.
- Guide your younger kids to age-appropriate articles. If they are too young to read such a long article, find one together and read it to them. Choose only parts of the story.
- Allowance. This is a great way to teach your kids how to start to manage money. My personal opinion is to include them in the decision of how much by having them “present their case “ with actual costs of items they need for the week. I highly recommend including entertainment, i.e. a movie a weekend. Otherwise they are asking for more money, $20 for this, and $20 for that without any clue how to manage for those expenses. I have given my high school son $20 and when he spends it all on junk food at school and the money is gone by Wednesday, then he has nothing left for the movies, it’s a bummer … for him. Some people feel kids should have to do chores to earn the money, others don’t. Some suggestions are to have them divide money into spend, save, and charity. It’s your decision — just start helping them learn how to manage it!
- Talk to your kids about business ideas. Ask them: If you could start a business what would YOU want to do? Help them find a need or an untapped idea in an area they are interested in. We always did a lot of summertime tie-dye, so my 18-year-old tie dyed some comforter duvets for her and posted pictures on Facebook. People loved them and wanted them. Boom! A business was born. I fronted the money for the duvets, she took the orders, did the work, and collected the money and paid me back for the upfront costs. She earned around $250 the summer before college. Great business experience! (You can help younger kids with ideas and planning.)
- How does your money grow? Do you have college savings/trusts for kids? If so, show them to your children and examine how much the interest grows. Explain what interest is and how money makes money. Ask them to do a little research on how much it costs to go to college. What is the difference between IN state and OUT of state tuition? How long does it take to earn that kind of money or save it? If you haven’t started a college fund yet, now is a great time to start. Open it WITH your kids and show them the monthly statements.
- My favorite, the stock market game. Check out http://www.wallstreetsurvivor.com — it’s fun and free. You can have all your kids involved; age doesn’t matter. We asked our kids which brands do you love and why. You can even track the stocks on your smart phone with the free app stocks. Have a family weekly update on who is earning the most money.
Which dinner-time business tip is your favorite? Do you have one of your own? We would love to hear your feedback. Please leave your comments below.