Thanksgiving officially kicks off the holiday season, even if some people have had their lights up since November 1st.
The “busy-ness” of prepping for Thanksgiving can be a perfect time to sneak some lessons to your kids.
Here are some ways you can teach your kids about money and the stock market during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Put the “Give” into Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to talk about family values around giving.
Does your family donate money to any charities or non-profits throughout the year?
Do your kids have any charities or non-profits that might be close to their hearts?
Many families make giving part of their budgeted monthly or annual expenses. If this is you, tell your kids why you do so.
A simple conversation about how you feel about generosity will leave a lasting impression on a growing child.
Of course, generosity is more than money! You can be generous with your time, knowledge, kindness and many other things too.
Are you preparing or purchasing Thanksgiving dinner? Do you have a grocery list?
How much do you think you will spend on Thanksgiving this year?
Help kids understand the finances behind Thanksgiving at an age-appropriate level by talking about how much things cost.
Have them guess the total cost of dinner, menu item, or shopping list and see how close they get.
Give them money (or have them contribute some of their allowance) towards a menu item of their choice, that they prepare. This will help them understand both the physical and financial cost of dinner.
Let’s Talk Business
Think about all of the people, companies and businesses that help make Thanksgiving Dinner possible!
Where did you buy the food? What brands of food did you buy?
Point out the businesses you use to your kids.
Point out the companies associated with the products you use, as these represent businesses as well.
It is good to point out businesses you use to your kids, and you probably do so already without thinking about it.
Talking to kids about businesses in your life contributes to their depth of life-knowledge. It prepares them for when they are are future consumers, employees, bosses, decision makers, executives, entrepreneurs…. the list goes on and on!
Stocks are Businesses
Talking about businesses with your kids also prepares you to talk to them about the stock market.
Many businesses are “publicly traded” which means anyone with money and an investment account can become a partial owner by buying shares of its company stock.
How many publicly traded companies might you be able to find associated with Thanksgiving Dinner?
Are you buying food from Whole Foods which is now owned by Amazon. Will you get groceries at a Kroger owned grocery store, or at Target or Wal Mart?
Maybe your turkey will come from Tyson and the soup for your green bean casserole came from Campbells.
Did you have to make a Starbucks run to get you through the shopping?
Each of these represent publicly traded companies your kids can look up however they get online.
What's Better? What's Bigger?
It can be fun to play “What’s Been a Better Business?”, especially with pre-teens and teens.
Take a few companies, and see what stock price would have made you more money the last year, two years, etc.
On a similar token, you can look up “What’s a Bigger Business?” and see which company has a larger “Market Cap”. The Market Cap represents the value of all the shares of the company at the current share price, in essence, it’s the value of the entire company.
When kids reach the age where they notice Black Friday ads, it’s a good time for money lessons. (And yes, like most things we should teach our kids, oftentimes we need to teach ourselves too.)
Are you or your kids planning to spend money on Black Friday?
Will you or they be spending on themselves or others?
If you or they are spending, did they save up for this or is it more of an impulse purchase?
Black Friday is a day where spending tendencies can be thrust into the spotlight of our life. A great deal can help save money on a planned purchase, but FOMO (fear of missing out) runs rampant as well!
What better time to be aware of the situation, and use it as an opportunity to teach our kids?
Black Friday Stocks
People vote with their wallets, and there is a lot of voting done on Black Friday.
Even if you aren’t shopping yourself, it can be good to pay attention to what everyone else is doing.
Is there a business with lines of people out the door - or is everyone staying home and ordering online?
Will people order only on Amazon, or will other retailers catch up?
Are shoppers lining up for a particular product?
Are certain new products, or new versions of old products that are sure to be a hit?
Maybe those are businesses you want to learn more about. Some of them may be publicly traded. It can be fun and educational to keep track of what happens to stock prices around news events and releases.
The point of this article isn’t to try to make stock analysts of all our kids, but rather to show you how simple it can be to turn everyday activities into financial lessons. It is also quite simple to mention the businesses we see, and spark curiosity and conversation.
You don’t have to buy the stock, either.
Just like you don’t have to buy every hot new item that comes out on Black Friday, you don’t have to buy the stock of every company you notice. In fact you probably shouldn't be buying too many of your own stock picks unless you really know what you are doing.
That being said, there is tremendous value in teaching kids how to look up a company online, including the stock quote if they are publicly traded.
They will see how businesses communicate, and the will get used to seeing financial numbers and terminology.
If you or your kids don't know what something means, remember, there's nothing you can't figure out with a little googling....
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