Parenting is a big role that men and women take on when their children are born. Besides providing basic needs, many parents would agree that giving their children as much as they possibly can is something they strive to do. But giving without teaching can be detrimental to children when the little bundles of joy grow up and one day leave the nest. Parents don’t realize that they failed to teach basic money lessons, like budgeting and how to save, until they are financially supporting their adult-children.
Ernie Almonte, vice chair of the AICPA’s National CPA Financial Literacy Commission said, “Dollars and cents should get the same attention as ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ at home.” It’s crucial to introduce the idea of finances, especially saving, to children at a young age so they can learn how to have a good relationship with money. In fact, Forbes noted that “children as young as three years old can grasp financial concepts like saving and spending.” That means you can start teaching your child before he or she is even old enough for Preschool about something that will be apart of their lives forever.
A report by Dr. Whitebread and Dr. Bingham from the University of Cambridge found that children form money habits by the age of 7. With that in mind, teaching your children good financial habits early on is important. Parents can educate about saving money in a number of ways.
If saving money is associated with being fun, younger children are more likely to take interest in it. Piggy banks are a great way to get children excited about saving money. Allow your child to choose their own piggy bank. Let them customize their piggy bank with bows and stickers so they feel like it’s theirs. Make it a habit to let them put their money in their piggy bank by themselves. At the end of each month, you can come together and count how much money is saved to keep track. If you don’t want to do this, you can keep track of each “deposit” with a chart your child can color.
A great way to correlate piggy bank saving with reality is to help your children make wish lists. Purchase a three ring binder and help your children pick items to add to their wish lists. You can print out pictures of things they want, glue them onto construction paper and write the store you found it at as well as the price. Three hole punch the construction paper and add it to the binder.
If you have older children, opening a savings account at a local bank is a realistic way to introduce them to finances. Make a trip to the bank once a week and encourage your children to interact with the teller when they’re depositing money into their account. Not only does this teach them how to save, it also teaches them how to complete a deposit in the real world.
By teaching kids the importance of saving, they also learn some valuable life lessons, and learn how to create goals. The wish list is equivalent to an adult’s goal list. A kid’s wish list includes things they want and an adult’s goal list includes things they want to accomplish.
They learn how to make sound decisions. Children learn that they can spend their money now on something they may kind of want or they can save in order to purchase something that they really want. They have to make decisions and saving money helps by teaching them the art of patience – they may not be able to get something today, but if they wait, they’ll be able to get something they actually look forward to and will enjoy.
They learn how to work for what they want. By doing simple tasks to earn money, children learn a good work ethic. Exchanging their time and effort for money, which in turn can be used to help them buy things, teaches them to value their hard earned money.
It’s Okay To Spend
Aside from teaching children how to save and why they need to save, highlighting that it’s okay to spend is also something that’s important to do. There’s nothing wrong with spending as long as they understand what “living within your means” means. This is a harder concept to teach younger kids but is a good concept to teach older, teenage children.
All in all, casually (and creatively) teaching your children about finances will help them make better financial decisions in their adulthood. Dave Ramsey, a personal money-management expert and national radio personality stated that “69% of parents have some reluctance when it comes to talking about money with their children” but remember, if you teach them early on, it will not only help them but it will also help lessen your chances of being the parents that are still financially supporting your 40-year old adult-child.