New York Times columnist Ron Lieber's best money tip for kids

Children play in Central Park as it snows in the Manhattan borough of New York January 26, 2015.
Carlo Allegri | Reuters

The New York Times' columnist and author Ron Lieber has some wise counsel for young people: Spend your money on experiences rather than things, and remember that what you use your money for shows what's really important to you.

Or, put more succinctly, "Doing things > having things," and "Your spending = your values."

Lieber was asked to share his advice as part of a month-long financial literacy campaign run by the Council for Economic Education, a 70-year-old organization that promotes economic education and financial education from Kindergarten through 12th grade.


The author tells CNBC that he hopes to help young shoppers make smart choices from the start.

All of the best psychological research on money and happiness tell us that spending money on experiences brings more (and more lasting) happiness than spending money on material objects, especially if we do those things with people that we care about a lot. The sooner kids become aware of this fact, and use it to govern the trade-offs that they make with their own money, they better choices they'll be able to make sooner as young adults.

Lieber also aims to make explicit something that often goes unsaid: that your priorities and principles are born out by your choices as a consumer. Credit card swipes speak louder than words.

It should be obvious that you spend money on the things that you value most. But most of us who look at our debit or credit card statements — and even the list of causes we donate money to — find at least a few things that don't really represent what we stand for — or what we want to stand for.

Looking at a list like this can be clarifying and help kids practice restraint when silly things are tempting and be patient so they can save for the things that they want (and want to do) the most.

Money-saving tips will roll out on social media throughout the month with the hashtag #MySavingsTip.

On Monday, billionaire Mark Cuban revealed his No. 1 saving tip for kids.

Make your family more savvy around money with these fun ideas