One day, Does Money Really Grow on Trees?after being told we did not have the money for something, my four-year-old responded with, "Mommy, just go to the ATM." I quickly had a flash back to my parents asking me, "Do you think money grows on trees?" Well, of course I did not think money grew on trees, but perhaps I missed the point of why I couldn't have the latest and greatest until I got my own job and realized money REALLY DOES NOT grow on trees.

So, how would I respond to my own child's simple request? At the time, the answer was still no, but I realized at that moment, she believes if we go and slide a card into the big machine, money will shoot out and we can get whatever we want.

Not exactly the impression I want her to have while she grows up. Therefore, we needed to start taking small steps now to help her have a better appreciation of money in the future.

With our family deciding to tackle our debt before she was old enough to be aware of the sacrifices that had to be made, we also needed to be responsible enough to teach her not to fall victim as we had. With so many adults in financial trouble today, parents are being urged to teach their children about money and to start early.

I did a little survey to see where her peers thought money came from and I got everything from people (mom, dad, grandparents) to locations (banks, purses, couches). If we can teach our children the value of money-how to separate needs from wants, how to save, and how to invest-we might just help them avoid the heartache of crushing debt and economic slavery later. So what do we do?

Be a good example

Children respond to our actions more than listen to our words, so teach them by your actions. I have been couponing for years. I often make decisions about where we will eat out based on which restaurants we have coupons for. When I grocery shop, I use coupons for everything and make purchase decisions based on coupons. By setting this example, she realizes there is value in the coupon and even looks out for coupons for me.

Set spending limits 

As adults, we have to be disciplined first in this area because the little ones will pull on the heart strings HARD to get what they want. So, learn to say no and mean it. Once they have a concept of money, discuss how much they can spend and (parents) stick to it.

Allow them to manage money

If they are given an allowance, give them some guidelines and then allow them to make some decisions about how their earned money should be spent; but also encourage them to save a portion as well. Check out your local Bank and Credit Union-they will have youth savings accounts to get the young ones on the right track. LGE Community Credit Union offers three different types of accounts for ages 5-12, 13-17 and 18-22. Teach them to share

Encouraging children to share a toy is hard enough, but sharing money is like pulling teeth. However, if you start young and teach them to share what they have with others through charities and such, it also teaches a wonderful moral lesson.

So does money REALLY grow on trees? Well, no; but if you give the children a great start by teaching them the proper way to manage money, then YOU won't have to pretend to be one . . . a money tree, that is.

Zandra Halley, CareOne Customer Blogger and Graduate from the Debt Management PlanZandra Halley 

Zandra is a graduate from the CareOne Debt Management Plan (DMP). You may have seen her posting as 'Motherofone' in our Community. Zandra and her husband have a lovely daughter who was their motivation for tackling their financial future. Having successfully graduated from the DMP, Zandra will be sharing her tips and experience with all of you to help others be successful with their financial goals to pay off their debt. Follow Zandra in the My Journey out of Debt blog. Compensated CareOne Blogger.