I think one of the most important things you can teach your kids (apart from core morals and to JUST BE KIND) is to understand how finances work.
When a kid thinks that money comes from an ATM, or that if they can get something by simply going to the store and getting it with “the card”, it will set them up for financial failure. How many parents actually talk to their kid about money? I know my husband and I didn’t, until we realized that they had no clue about finances worked. We wanted them to understand more about money – both good and bad, so they would make sound choices. Teaching the kids about finances is a lot easier than you think! There are a lot of great ways to get started when they are tiny, so it becomes just another way of life. This list, from Winnie Sun has 5 easy ways to help your kids learn about finances.
- Ease Your Children into Understanding the Importance of Saving Money Consider easing your children into understanding the importance of budgeting by establishing a reward system for any pastimes that your children enjoy. This may take shape in the form of having your children use their tickets earned from daily chores to watch their favorite TV shows or play video games. Once your children get into a habit of budgeting their tickets effectively, you can gradually teach them the importance of saving actual money. The key is to make saving money an enjoyable process for your kids.
- Weave Money Conversations Into Regular Life Money discussions should be a part of your regular life. It starts with you. Have open discussions about money with your spouse or other people in your life. Children are always learning by observing. The healthier you are with your finances, the healthier relationship they will also have with money. Talk about how you’re going to work to make money to provide to the family, how we budget for things like a family vacation, etc. The more “regular” and “open” conversations about money the better. Show them how you make large and small money decisions, and why, when, you save and invest. Children should be empowered to ask questions, be taught to identify value in shopping, saving, and eventually investing too.
- Start Them Off By Helping Them Save, Together One of the first things you and your child can do together is save together. This can be for an upcoming family vacation, for college, or even that next Lego set. By taking your child through the process of saving, budgeting, and ultimately saving, you’re teaching your child money habits while tackling a financial goal together. By having a family financial goal, everyone is participates. Show your child how it’s best to save “regularly”. Have a weekly or month savings goal. For example, let’s try to save $100 per month every month and send that money to your college savings plan. For children over the age of 8, you can also start to show them financial statements, how investment move up and down in value, and how adding additional contributions regularly can really make a difference in how much you have saved in the long term.
- Visit The Library For Age-Appropriate Books that Emphasize the Importance of Saving Our local library has several age-appropriate books that teach budgeting in an easy manner are great ways to get your kids excited about saving. For younger audiences, you may want to consider books that contain their favorite cartoon characters. Books like The Berenstain Bears’ Dollars and Sense are rich with illustrations and ideal for the young saver. As your children mature, invest in books that give advice on more sophisticated financial topics like retirement planning and investment strategies.
- Look for Good Deals with Your Children When you visit the local stores, have your children accompany you. Get them used to seeing price tags, sale signs, labels, etc. Then, at home, have your kids compare the prices of common household items to those of other stores and online vendors. Expose them to sites like Amazon that show reviews, then Craigslist and Ebay to show them what their previously-favorite toys are now worth second-hand to empower them to make better “must have” toy and other decisions later on. Talk to them about the importance of buying less and saving for more value. And encourage them to think of ways they can help the less fortunate along the way. You really have an opportunity to give your child a strong financial foundation.
These were some great tips for getting your younger kids started on a smart financial beginning. Teaching them how to make sound financial decisions will set them up for successful beginning. With what we taught our daughter, she decided to launch her own business, and is quite successful at age 20. Our son is right now making the choice of whether or not to go to college or to technical school, which would make him happier, and more financially sound. Thy couldn’t have made these decisions without having a firm foundation.