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Children’s Book Review: Let’s Chat About Economics!

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While parents may feel that it’s important for their children to have some financial education, they may not be sure of how to teach their kids about money. That’s where the book “Let’s Chat About Economics!” comes into play. Authored by Michelle Balconi and Dr. Arthur Laffer, this book helps parents start conversations about money and economics with their children by illustrating basic economic principles in language kids understand. This engaging book weaves economic terms and ideas into stories about families dealing with typical money management situations.

With a brief introduction and just four short chapters, “Let’s Chat About Economics!” helps set the foundation for solid financial decision-making in the future.

Learning Market Economy Basics at the Grocery Store

A trip to the grocery store is a perfect opportunity to chat about the basics of a market economy when you take your kids along. Making frugal decisions, such as using coupons and purchasing items that are marked down or on sale, is an important topic in this chapter. Phrases such as supply and demand, scarcity, and costs are explained in child-appropriate language.

The Opportunity Costs of a Family Trip

Planning a family winter getaway trip when money is tight is the focus of this chapter, which discusses opportunity costs, trade-offs, and diminishing returns. When Maria and Danny’s mother explains that they can’t afford the winter trip Maria dreams of, she encourages them to come up with an alternative plan. This is just one example in the book of how parents can encourage their children to think for themselves and problem-solve money issues. By brainstorming, researching online, and making adjustments to their expectations, Danny and Maria learn valuable lessons about the true costs of a family vacation.

Economics Lessons When School’s Out

What’s the difference between needs and wants? When something is labeled as “free,” is it really? This chapter covers these topics through the story of Joe, who says he wants to give up his chores and corresponding allowance to enjoy “free” summertime activities. Joe’s parents help him understand the concepts of income tax, sales tax, and quid pro quo as he learns about the true costs of his financial choices.

Yard Sale Lessons for Kids

When Allie wants to buy an expensive music player and expects her parents to pay for half of it, she’s in for a surprise. Balconi and Laffer use this scenario to introduce and explain elasticity, supply and demand, choices, and the idea of saving up to purchase big-ticket items. As in the previous chapters, they do a great job of using an example and language familiar to kids to illustrate some fairly complex economic ideas.

Chatting About Economics With Your Kids

“Let’s Chat About Economics!” gives parents a supplemental tool for teaching kids about money that can be paired with money and personal finance board games, practical activities such as encouraging children to earn allowances, and other money and finance activities for kids, such as running a lemonade stand. In addition to practical advice and actionable tips, the book provides basic graphs with simple images that help clarify the economic terms and models being taught, so that even the youngest children can understand them. Best of all, the book includes a glossary—a handy reference for both kids and those parents whose college economics may be a little rusty.

As Balconi and Laffer suggest in their book, it’s never too early to discuss economics and the value of a dollar with your children.

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Sarita Harbour is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance, entrepreneurship, and green living. As a former financial adviser with over a decade of banking experience, she has been writing for American and Canadian digital audiences for the past three years. Her work is featured regularly on Capital One's Spark Business IQ, Forbes, and The Lending Tree, and also appears on sites such as Fox News, Yahoo! Homes, Bob Vila, Equifax Insights for Small Business, and Intuit Small Business. Sarita graduated from the University of Guelph where she studied Psychology and Computer Science, and she holds the Personal Financial Planning designation from the Institute of Canadian Bankers. Sarita is also a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada. She lives with her family in an off-the-grid cabin outside of Yellowknife, NWT.