Help your children cultivate good money habits and prepare them to be responsible adults by teaching them about financial concepts when they are young. Here are some tips for educating children of all ages about finances.
1. Set a Good Example
As with any life skill, parents and other adults are role models. Be smart about your purchases and get your financial life in order so your children will pick up on your good habits. If you set a good example, your children will be more open to learning from you.
2. Start Teaching Financial Concepts Early
Young children are little sponges, soaking up all sorts of information. This is a great time to instill financial best practices . Kids as young as three years old can understand basic concepts such as bartering, saving and earning.
Tactics and lessons vary as children get older, but use these ideas for teaching young children about finances:
- Use cash when possible. This is clearer to a child than using a check or credit/debit card because they can see the cash leaving your hands. Give kids the tactile experience of handling money by letting them assist with paying for items or services.
- Teach them about choices. You have to make choices about how you spend your money, and sometimes that means you, and they, must wait for something. Explain to your child that there is only so much money, and once it is gone, it is gone. That means, as a family, you must make important decisions about spending it.
3. Use an Allowance for Hands-On Learning
Some parents give their children an allowance without any expectations. Others tie an allowance to completion of household chores, school performance or good behavior. Tying the payment of allowance to your child’s actions can help to teach that money is earned, not just given. You could even assign values to varying levels of effort. However you structure an allowance, be consistent. If the child has earned a certain amount, pay what you owe. Otherwise, the child may feel keeping promises about money isn’t important.
4. Step It Up for Teenagers & College-Age Kids
Checking accounts, credit cards and debt start to pop up during the teenage and college years. Teach teens about banking and credit to prepare them before they leave home.
Ways to educate teens about finances include:
- When comparing colleges, discuss the costs. Include expenses other than tuition to give your child a better idea of the financial components. Don’t let the price tag discourage or overwhelm your child, though. Balance out the cost discussion by explaining the lifelong worth of a college education and discuss opportunities for scholarships and financial aid.
- Teach your teen that credit card balances should be paid off in full each month. It is easy to slide into credit card debt, and no one wants that for their child. Warn your child of the affect debt could have on his or her credit history, which could make it difficult to buy a car or a home.
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