Teaching Kids About Money
Published: March 2, 2021
Revised: December 20, 2021
Talking to your kids about healthy money management now will set them up for a lifetime of financial success. Not sure where to start? Try these handy tips for teaching your little ones about smart money habits!
Lead by example.
A study by the University of Cambridge found that money habits in children are formed by the time they’re 7 years old. Little eyes are watching you. If you’re slapping down plastic every time you go out to dinner or the grocery store, they’ll eventually notice. Or if you and your spouse are arguing about money, they’ll notice that too. Whatever you do now, they’ll be much more likely to follow it when they get older.
Allow them to earn commission.
An allowance is different than commission. An allowance teaches the mindset that you’ll get money regardless of what you are doing. A commission is money that you earn. The more chores you do—and the better you do them—the more money you’ll earn.
Show them that stuff costs money.
You’ve got to do more than just say, “that pack of toy cars costs $5.” Help them grab a few dollars out of their jar, take it with them to the store, and physically hand the money to the cashier. This simple action will have more impact than a five-minute lecture.
Teach them about opportunity cost.
Opportunity cost is just another way of saying, “If you do this, then you won’t be able to do this.” If you want to have this toy, you won’t be able to buy that game. Ask them what they are trading their money for. It matters!
Model a planned approach.
If your child always gets something when you bring them to a store, then they won’t learn the value of saving for that item over time. It’s important to teach them how to save, so when they do buy something it will be more meaningful.
Enjoy free activities.
Show your kids there are ways to have fun without spending a dime! Do free activities, like a bike ride in your neighborhood or a picnic in the park.
Open a joint account.
If you have a teenager, set them up with a simple checking and/or savings account. This takes money management to the next level and prepares them for managing a much heftier account when they get older.
Start a college savings fund.
Is your teen working a summer job? Perfect! Take a portion of that (or more) and put it in a college savings account. Show them the account so they can see the power of compounding interest and start to plan for college expenses.
Teach them about credit.
As soon as your kid turns 18, they’ll get hounded by credit card offers—especially once they’re in college. Teach them how to properly use credit now so they’re set up for success in the future.
Encourage them to get a job.
High schoolers have plenty of free time, especially during school breaks. If your teen wants some money, help them find a part-time job. A job allows them to see the value of working to earn money and to learn skills that they won’t get anywhere else.
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