HOW much allowance should a 10-year-old get? How can you stop your teenager from spending all his pocket change on compact discs? And how do you impart the value of saving to a college-age child?
These are a few questions a new leaflet series designed for parents attempts to answer. ``Kids in the Marketplace'' also addresses topics such as employment and food shopping, among others.
Lois Morton of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., wrote the series to teach parents how to give their children good money-management skills. ``By failing to learn these concepts and skills, American consumers may end up needlessly spending thousands of dollars that could have been better used for savings, education, better housing, or whatever particular goals a person might have,'' she says.
``Our kids learn consumer behaviors through watching what adults do. So it's really incumbent upon parents to try to [get them to buy smartly],'' Ms. Morton says.
The key to raising children who can manage their money is starting the learning process early, when the child is receptive to the message. ``You could begin by asking your children why they want [a certain toy] over another - comparison shopping,'' Morton says. She also suggests teaching marketplace values early. She recommends looking in newspapers for sales and clipping coupons as a way to break automatic marketplace choices, such as going to the same store to buy the same things.
Waiting until a child is a teenager before the lesson begins makes the process more difficult. Morton explains that teens are often caught up in peer pressure and other aspects of adolescence that make them ``extremely vulnerable and susceptible to marketing,'' from credit card companies, for example.
Morton recommends that parents ask their teens to contribute money toward gasoline for the family car, if they drive it. That way, the teen learns the cost of driving the car and his or her own portion of the expense.
By the time children have moved away from home, it is not uncommon for them to complain about having no money, Morton says. ``We want to help them to learn savings skills - for a car payment, rent - and that you don't spend all your money on payday,'' she says.
The pamphlets are available from the Cornell University Resource Center, 7 BTP, Ithaca, N.Y., 14850.