We all know that being a parent means wearing many hats; that of a chaperone, housekeeper, teacher, cook, counselor, just to name a few! In the midst of the day-to-day chaos of carpool, homework, making dinner, laundry, and cleaning, it’s easy to forget that we’re also responsible for preparing our kids for the “real world.”
Sure, our children will learn important lessons in school, from friends and family, and from their own experiences. But there are a few lessons that you are responsible for teaching them—important lessons that, if neglected, can lead to major issues in their adult life. Teaching them about finances is one of those lessons.
They will learn about money somehow, someway, and from someone—to protect them from learning harmful habits, you want that someone to be you.
You might be saying to yourself, “All right, all right, I know it’s important to talk to my kids about money—but how do I do it?”
Here are a few great ideas to guide you in the right direction.
Talking to Preschool And Kindergartners
One of the most important lessons to teach your preschool- and kindergarten-aged kids is that “good things come to those who wait.” Learning the value of delayed gratification can have a huge impact on your child’s entire life.
An easy way to start teaching delayed gratification is to show your kids how to save money for toys they want.
And believe it or not, piggy banks are not the best way to do this. You want your child to be able to see their savings growing right in front of their eyes. So instead of a piggy bank, consider using a clear jar instead (or better yet, one of those clear electronic money-counting jars with digital displays).
The key to success when working with young kids (or children of any age, for that matter) is to make your money lessons fun. Play money-related games, do money experiments, mix in some friendly competition—figure out what sorts of activities capture their attention and concentrate on those.
Talking To Elementary And Middle Schoolers
Once your child reaches elementary and middle school age, you’ll want to start focusing more on the value of money.
One way to do this is to take your child shopping and explain your purchase decisions to them. For example, tell them why you choose a generic brand over a name brand (e.g., because it tastes the same, is cheaper, and leaves you with money left over to save for something special).
You can also teach your child the value of money by starting an allowance. If they have to work for their money, they’ll value it more. They’ll also learn to prioritize when deciding how to spend their earnings.
Talking To High Schoolers
By the time your child reaches their teenage years, they should now have a solid foundation in money management. But your job isn’t done yet—there’s still a lot left for them to learn!
If you haven’t already, make sure to open a checking and savings account for them. This will help you teach them how interest works.
Once they get the basics down, you can transition into more advanced lessons, such as the power of compound interest over time (and how their savings can snowball if they start early).
One of the best ways to help these lessons sink in is to encourage your child to get a part-time job. That way, they can experience everything firsthand.
Lastly, don’t forget to teach them about credit. You might think credit cards aren’t for kids (maybe you got into trouble using credit cards and don’t want the same for your children). But if you don’t teach them how to use credit cards wisely, who will?
Before you release your kids into the “real world,” they should understand that they can only spend what they have. If you open a credit card for them while they’re living with you, you can train them to build credit while paying off their balance each month.
The Most Effective Way To Teach
You can teach your kids all there is to know about money, but if you really want the lessons to stick, there’s one essential ingredient you can’t forget…
Leading by example!
This can be easier said than done. After all, unless you have a degree in personal finance, chances are you don’t know everything about the best ways to handle and invest your money (which is completely okay).
That’s why financial advisors exist—to teach non-financial experts the best ways to grow and protect their wealth. By working with a financial advisor, you can maximize your finances and talk to your kids about money at the same time.
If you’re interested in more guidance in talking to your kids about finances or in sharpening your own financial plan, call our office today at 909-981-1720 or simply click here to schedule a free 15-minute introductory phone call!
Philip A. Board MSFS, CFS, is a retirement planning specialist and the founder of 1on1financial, an independent comprehensive investment firm serving individuals and businesses throughout the United States. He is also the owner and CEO of Medi-cal Benefits.