KIDS & MONEY

Sneakers sneak in a money lesson

Updated: 2012-09-19T04:59:26Z

By STEVE ROSEN

The Kansas City Star

LeBron James and Nike, thank you.

The basketball superstar and the giant of the sneaker world are combining starting Sept. 22 on the rollout of Nike’s priciest shoe yet. The LeBron X Nike Plus will sell for $270. There was initial speculation that it would break the $300 barrier, but this remains the LeBron sneaker series’ most expensive version yet.

Those pricey sneakers reportedly will come embedded with motion sensors that tell how high you jump so you can refine your rebounding and shot-blocking skills.

I can hear the collective gasp of disbelief from parents. Who in their right mind would shell out that much for basketball shoes, unless the powers behind the Nike swoosh also guarantee your teen will swish every shot and become an NBA millionaire.

So why do I give praise?

Because James and Nike have provided you with a perfect opportunity to discuss smart money habits with your youngster on saving, planning, goal setting and even how to spend NBA money.

The easiest money conversations between parents and kids occur when the topic is relatable.

Sam Renick, the founder of It’s A Habit, a Los Angeles company that promotes financial literacy, suggests that parents focus on the work angle. Encourage the mindset that you can have anything you want that you are willing to work for.

Renick said you might ask your son or daughter, “Is this something you really want? If so, let’s figure out a plan on how you can work to get it.”

From there, you could talk about getting a part-time job or taking on more chores around the house.

Renick likes this strategy because it emphasizes sacrifice and discipline, hope and independence. And it puts your kids’ money on the line rather than yours.

I also think you need to set a realistic timetable on how long it will take to earn enough money to pay for the shoes. Do the math.

Some other sneaker lessons worth sharing:

• Marketing and branding. Why are the shoes so pricey? How much of the cost covers marketing, packaging, etc.? And do you think $270 shoes will improve your game more than a $70 pair?

• Technology. How cool it must be to get paid to design a basketball shoe with computer chips. What skills are involved?

• Stock ownership. Skip the shoes, but buy Nike stock. The NBA season is just around the corner, and LeBron will surely be a promotional machine for Nike. Start watching the stock.

Of course, you could look at the price of LeBron’s new sneakers and just say no to your son or daughter on the latest hot material thing.

But wouldn’t it be better to engage them in a topic that doesn’t involve homework, dating or any other teenage conversation stoppers?

To reach Steve Rosen, call 816-234-4879 or send email to srosen@kcstar.com.

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