Financial Literacy has recently become a hot topic but is rarely mandated in schools across the U.S. and Canada. We learn how to find a frog’s lungs in grade eight but don’t know how amortization works on a mortgage, keeping a good credit rating or how to invest for the future.
There are a few classes popping up in high school but at that age, it’s too late. Positive associations like eating well, exercise through sports, and manners are taught in kindergarten and money skills should be taught early as well. Money skills are that important, maybe even more.
If students wait until high school, kids will have already developed poor habits. And we want all of our kids to develop positive belief systems around money as soon as possible.
Here are five ways parents can teach their children about money from a very early age.
1. POSITIVE BELIEF SYSTEM: Play money games with your kids. Play shop keeper. Let them start playing business and managing their inventory and pay money coming in and out. This will set the positive association that money is NOT bad but something positive. Just like how playing introduces socialization in kids early on.
2. ALLOWANCE AND BUDGET: Let kids work for money and THEN develop a budget. Think how fantastic kids will be in tenth grade when they have been budgeting since they were 6-years- old. Give kids an allowance and let them budget and save for things they want. If they can get paper routes or do gardening for grandma and grandpa for money it can be built into their budgets. Have them save for their 529 plan too!
3. INVESTING AND SAVING: Start contributing to 529 plan at age one! Depending on your state there could even be tax benefits and it’ll show kids how it can grow over time. When old enough, let them help with the investments. If they LOVE Disney buy a share. If they buy things on Amazon buy that too. It will create the connection from real life to investing very early and give them an advantage. They’ll have a projection on how to fund college way before high-school.
4. PRIVACY AND ONLINE SAFETY: Get them a bank account right away and let them track their spending from their account. You can use money budgeting apps like mint.com or the banks have budgeting tools as well. Teach them about privacy, online shopping safely and credit scores with the help of bank and online resources. They will be budgeting champs before they are done with grade school.
5. BUSINESS AND MONEY SAVVY: Encourage them to start an online business in high school. Turn their passions into profits. It doesn’t have to make any money, but it’ll feed into how planning and business work. Learn the future of business and online commerce.
With these five steps, they’ll be able to get a head start on personal finance skills that will build confidence and efficacy that our youth so desperately need. The world will be a completely different place with a financially knowledgeable population. We should all strive for our kids to learn comprehensive financial literacy at a young age.