Walter Isaacson, author of “Steve Jobs,” reportedly clocked a lot of time at the Jobs’ family home, giving him the opportunity to observe Jobs’s parenting priorities. “Every evening Steve made a point of having dinner at the big long table in their kitchen, discussing books and history and a variety of things,” Isaacson explained. “No one ever pulled out an iPad or computer. The kids did not seem addicted at all to devices.”

Dinnertime is a window of opportunity to reach your kids that most parents undervalue.

For many, it’s a tough time to carve out because of the many after school activities as well as the abundance of homework to complete before the next day. BUT, if you make dinnertime a priority – after a time – it becomes the norm and a place to stop, eat, talk and reconnect.

I grew up in a time when a family had only one car, and it went to work with my dad. So, if anything happened after school it needed to happen before dark. So, sitting down to dinner was a no-brainer. I recognize life is not like that now. Families have more than one car and kids have lots more opportunities after school. And many parents travel for work.

So, think of dinner as one more activity. Give it the same importance and schedule it in.

Dinnertime is a great time to talk about – and plan for – what you will all do with time off this year.

Throw out a few questions like: Who would like to go on a vacation this year? Where would you like to go? What do you think that would cost? How could we all save up for this vacation? Who could contribute what to make it a reality?

This “vacation” conversation is not only about a fun trip, but also about budgeting. Making choices. Earning money. Understanding the difference between needs and wants and prioritizing some wants over another.

Ask your family to present the vacation place of their choice to the family at a future dinner. Have them go online and research the “cost” and then during the discussion, add and subtract to get to a realistic number.

Don’t forget to suggest the power of a stay-cation. Discuss the pros and cons of a driving vs. flying trip. Bottom line, this is an easy and fun way to start talking about setting a goal and planning how to reach that money goal.

So…what’s for dinner at your house tonight?

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Written by Susan Beacham
Susan Beacham founded Money Savvy Generation in 1999 after almost two decades in private banking and investment management complemented by considerable time teaching at the elementary level.

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