We all want the best for our kids. We don’t just want them to survive, we want them to thrive. This means teaching them the foundations they will need for life, and it includes financial education. Getting kids on a good financial path starts early, and can be used with anything from pocket change to paycheques.
We start by opening the dialogue about money with our kids, and teaching them some basic principles that will put them on firm financial footing in the future. It may seem small now, but teaching kids while they are young and eager to learn (and before they have some of our bad habits!) can go a long way to encouraging them to be responsible financially sound adults.
This article is going to overview just a few of the many things you can do to start getting kids used to playing with numbers and playing responsibly.
From an early age, teach children about budgeting. Encourage them to think about upcoming expenses (like a family holiday, or a savings goal they have for a new toy), and help them map out these expenses. This will get them thinking about what their goals are and how to reach them, and you can help coach them along the way.
Budgeting is something we often find hard to learn as adults when we haven’t done it so far, but it isn’t so hard when it’s all you’ve ever known. Encourage kids to save as well as to spend, and let them decide where the money will ultimately go.
Get your child a bank account as early as possible so that kids have a place to safely save money, and start to feel a little more independent. Granted it will be many years before they are genuinely financially independent, but opening a bank account is a good way to encourage those feelings young. This also gets them thinking about the banking world, types of accounts, and how to best make use of their money.
Eventually children will start earning more of their own money through wages. Before they’re old enough to get a job, teach them about garage sales, or running small neighbourhood ‘businesses’ to encourage them to earn a bit here and there that they can then manage. Every dollar counts.
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If possible, share pieces of your investment advice with your children. Let them see all the things in your portfolio, and ask questions if they have any. Investing can be quite a fun way to show that money was made to work for you, not you for it, and kids often enjoy examining potential investments.
Teach them what a stock is, an adult savings account. Show them how important it is to stay organised. These are lessons that seem small now but encourage great financial habits in children for later.
Paying bills at the end of the month
You may not want the kids to see the exact dollars and cents of your daily accounting life, but there isn’t any harm in getting them to think about how much the TV costs – or letting them see you plan your expenses.
Let kids know when it’s bills day to get them used to the habit of regularly paying off debts and planning for them. Show them that it doesn’t have to be a huge stress, but that it does require thought and planning to stay ahead.
It’s hard to teach kids to save if you’re not able to show that you’re doing the same thing. Teach kids from an early age, and often, about the importance of saving and how it helps you reach your long-term goals.
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Don’t be afraid to get kids involved in trying to compete to find the lowest price on an item the family is looking to buy. Help them to distinguish between lowest cost and best value, and then go out and pick up the items together. This is a great way to get kids involved (in a fun manner) with a healthy habit of doing research before a big purchase.
Older kids especially start to get into this as they start planning for their own future expenses like a car, or computer. Help them in their deals as they did in yours, and see what they come up with!
Teach them about insurance
Kids also may not have personal need of insurance just yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t talk with them about why your home is insured, or about what car insurance means, to get them started thinking about what it does and how to manage it.
The bottom line – get started!
No matter what principles you value or what approach you take, it’s critical that you open the lines of communication about money now. Kids aren’t always taught about financial matters at school, but that doesn’t mean it must be entirely new to them as they enter the workforce. By getting kids involved young, you’ll encourage smart habits for later to ensure their own financial success. What more can you ask for with your kids?