How can you get your kids to start saving their money and quit wasting it on the latest smartphone apps and throwaway fashion? New research shows that it's simple: talk to your teens about money, and they will have a better idea of its value.

 

You may have already heard of the marshmallow experiment, a test conducted in the 1970s in which researchers had young children sit before a table. The researchers placed a marshmallow on the table and told each child that she could eat it — but that if she waited 15 minutes, she could have two marshmallows.

 

This research found that kids who could resist the marshmallow had better self-control and were subsequently better at handling money than the kids who gobbled it right away. The assumption at the time was that these kids were just born with better self-control than their peers, but new research is looking into ways to boost self-control among young people, especially when it comes to financial matters.  

 

The key? The role of the parents.

 

Joyce Serido, a researcher at the University of Arizona, Tucson, recently interviewed large numbers of freshmen entering the university. She found that young people who reported their families had included them in conversations about money and budgets were much more likely to make more responsible financial decisions as it came time for them to graduate from college. These were the students that were living on a budget, saving money, and making tough choices between wants and needs.

 

And the difference couldn't be explained away by the young person's financial status. Kids from well-off families did not save more than children from poorer families. Rather, Serido said, patterns of family dynamics tended to predict which kids were better at handling money.  

 

Do you talk to your kids about money? Even though it may not seem like they are listening, rest assured that they are. And the conversations you have now may help them become better at budgeting their money in the future.

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