Kids need financial footing in consumer culture, says expert

Richmond's Paul Lermitte says navigating a society under pressure to consume requires a strong financial foundation.
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A culture of instant gratification, consumerism and easy credit has magnified the importance of teaching kids about money, says a local financial planner.

"We're trying to train these kids to be better money managers than in some ways we were taught because of the marketing madness out there for us to consume," said Paul Lermitte, a longtime Shellmont resident. "It is scary out there."

Lermitte, 52, is author of Allowances, Dollars and Sense, originally published in 1999 and recently updated and re-released. The book aims to help parents build strong financial foundations in young children—its principles having been practised on Lermitte's own three children.

An allowance is the first step toward building a strong foundation, he contends, allowing children to learn financial sense while making their own decisions about money.

"If they want to go to 7-Eleven and blow it on a Slurpee, a chocolate bar, well if it's there money, then that's their decision," he said.

Then, if they want to go to the movies and don't have enough coins in the piggy bank, they learn firsthand the impact decisions around money have.

"We need to arm our children when they're young, when they can make small mistakes with great decision-making, great confidence and knowledge about money."

Lermitte advocates handing out allowances  on Sunday or Monday—at the start of the week—as opposed to the start of the weekend. He also suggests parents don't use an allowance as a reward or punishment.

Lermitte's book, with strategies aimed at children ages five to 12, is available at and Amazon. His second book, Dreams, Dollars and Sense, is due out May 1 and is written to guide parents of teenagers. Other books are also planned: for 20-to-30-year-olds and for leaders of a family business.

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