My parents are some of the most financially savvy people I know. They own their home free and clear and have been completely debt free for the majority of my life. They taught me to save for Christmas all year long so I wouldn’t have that extra expense in December. My mom taught me to use the “envelope” cash system before it was in vogue and my dad showed me how to balance a checkbook at age 15 (though I will admit that with the ease of online banking I haven’t used a check register since, sorry Dad!). They taught me and my sisters the importance of saving, tithing, giving and the risks of carrying unnecessary debt. All of these tools have served me well, but the greatest lesson was to teach me the value of money.

I am so grateful to my parents for teaching me the value of money. I believe that unless children learn the value of money first, all other financial lessons are wasted. The key is finding some way to make money relatable, it has to mean something. For me, the key to learning the value of money was a coin-operated horse outside of K-Mart. When I was a kid, the only “super-store” we had in town was K-Mart, and outside was a coin-operated horse ride. 25 cents bought you one 30-second ride on the shiny, golden-haired stallion. I came to associate quarters as “horsey-money.” One dollar was equal to 4 horsey-monies, so if I wanted to spend a whole dollar of my allowance on something, I had to make sure it was worth giving up 4 horse rides. I still remember being in a toy aisle with my dad and having him explain that the particular toy I was lusting after cost nearly 80 horsey-monies. I never took my Christmas or birthday presents for granted after that—the world is an expensive place when you have to count it one quarter at a time!

Serenity Melnick is a Registered Representative offering securities through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisor Representative, Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Legacy Wealth Management, LLC and Cambridge are not affiliated. Cambridge does not offer tax advice.

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