It’s never too early to educate your kids on personal finance. There are several things you can do as a parent, for your kids, no matter what their ages. The life lessons they learn from you now will stick with them through adulthood.
Toddlers may have difficulty understanding the concept of money. They may not know the worth of those coins and bills in your wallet, but if you make pretend money or use real coins at home and have your toddler “shop” for household goods like the paper towels and toilet paper you already have in your home, you can introduce the concept. Your child will learn that these things have value and so does the money he or she uses for the transactions.
Preschoolers will mimic your behaviors, so make it a point to model good money stewardship. Spend cash (instead of plastic) wherever you take your child. This will help your preschooler to see that buying things results in a decrease in the amount of money you have, which they cannot see if you pay for everything with a credit card. You can also have your preschoolers help you to clip and carry coupons with you to the grocery store. At the store, make sure you point out the prices to your child and tell him or her which products cost less. This will also help your child to recognize and understand the relationship between numbers.
Elementary School Children
By the time they get to elementary school, many children understand that they want money because they can buy things with it, but they often do not make good decisions with their money. Instead of just letting them spend every penny they get for their birthday or allowance, get them a special piggy bank to help them sort their money. The Money Savvy Pig Bank costs just under $20, and it includes four slots to put money in. This bank lets your child see that some of their money should be used for charity, some for savings, some for investing and some for spending. You may also let your child play educational and fun money games for free from the U.S. Mint’s website for kids.
Many tweens and young teenagers are too young to get jobs, but they can work around the house for their allowance. This links their efforts to their pay in their mind, which can help to encourage them to work harder in school and other areas of their lives. With an allowance, help your young teen create a budget, and continue to discuss regularly giving to a charity in addition to the spending the child wants to do.
By the time your children reach high school and have their own jobs, they can learn many more real-life applications of money management. Consider letting them open a checking account with a debit card. This will give your children the convenience of using a credit card without going into debt because your teen will not be able to spend more money than is in the checking account. Have your teen budget to save up for his or her own car or to pay for auto insurance and gas if he or she already drives. Another way to help your teen learn about money is to comparison shop the costs of colleges and see what type of financial aid or scholarships are available for each.
Teach your kids about handling money, so they can grow up to be responsible with it as adults.