Money matters and credit cards

One of the many tricky subjects to teach my kids is fiscal responsibility.  We live comfortably and they are fed, clothed and have enough toys to never be bored.  We make them compose lists when they "want" something so that the list can be used for Hanukkah or birthdays. Recently, our school created an opportunity for me to teach my kids about my job AND about credit cards in the same breath.

My eldest son is studying money at school and it's a lot more involved and values driven than combining denominations and making change. At breakfast recently, he asked me how I make money as his homework was to give an oral report on how his parents make money.

As I paused to compose an answer that explains what a marketing executive does and why someone pays me to do it, I gave a moment of thanks to the feminists of generations past. My son didn't think twice about asking me what I do to earn money - he knows I work (he's seen the office) and he thinks its normal and even cool that is Mom is a professional.

After I answered that I create the stories and letters/brochures/magazines that let people know about a product or service they might want to buy (using Lego Magazine as an example he would appreciate), I got asked the real doozy -

"Mom, do you and Dad pay off your credit cards every month or keep a balance?"

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My husband and I have always paid our cards off in full - the interest rates on credit cards makes me queasy. 

That's good.  My teacher says its smart to pay off your credit cards in full otherwise you owe the bank more money. 

He wanted to know more about how credit works and why banks lend people money on credit. I seized the opportunity to both address his questions and hopefully lay some foundation for when he has a credit card of his own and thinks about if he can afford what he's about to charge.  Truth be told, I sort of expected to have this conversation in seven or eight years when he's starting to drive - but I'm glad the school is helping them understand responsibility about money and not just denominations.

What opportunities have you seized to help your children learn fiscal responsibility?