What the Super Bowl can teach your kid about money

One Super Bowl bet you won’t regret

Winning your office pool can be a good teachable moment for you and your kid

This Sunday, millions of fans across the nation will hunker down for another bruising battle, pledging their allegiance to either a perennially dominant force from New England or a scrappy contender from the City of Brotherly Love.

Forget Patriots vs. Eagles. I’m talking lobster rolls and cheesesteaks! Which one headlines the food at your party?

Of course, Super Bowl Sunday is more than just the high holiday of national snacks: It’s the start of office pool season, when many of us offer up a buck for a Super Bowl box, a fiver for an Oscar ballot, or a ten spot for a March Madness bracket.

And come Monday, we all not-so-secretly also hope to be receiving a windfall of cash. If the mere prospect of those winnings has you feeling like a kid again, what better time to remember that windfalls are great teachable moments for children and parents alike?

My advice? Require that he set aside a significant portion of any windfall for long-term savings.

Throughout the year kids have their own opportunities to come into unexpected piles of cash—think Sweet 16 parties, Quinceañeras, Dastar Bandi ceremonies, or even graduations. These rituals all include the possibility of cash gifts—and making a rational plan for any windfall should happen before your teen is rolling around on his bedroom floor covered in twenties like a lotto player who’s hit the jackpot.

Should the money be socked away in your kid’s college savings account? Will some of it be donated to charity? Will your kid get to blow it on stuff he wants (a drum set or an expensive spring break trip)? Or (most likely) will the money be divided up and used for more than one purpose? The sooner you set expectations (and restrictions), the better.

My advice? Require that he set aside a significant portion of any windfall for long-term savings. If he’s earned money through a part time job, why not open an IRA? He could also contribute to the 529 you’ve opened for him. (It’s better to have fewer assets in your kid’s name when applying for financial aid, as colleges generally ask for a higher percentage of that money than they do of parental assets.) If your kid has a charity or project that he cares about (maybe he volunteers at a local animal shelter?), suggest that he set aside a donation for that, too. No matter what, help him come up with a plan that reflects your family’s money values.

A small bet for the Patriots in the Big Game may seem like child’s play. But using any winnings wisely can help make sure your kid learns not to gamble away his future.

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