We all try to raise children to become hardworking, happy, and financially responsible adults.
It’s a big job!
First, we need to recognize that every child has their own personality and we cannot fully shape or control the way our children end up. However, there are many ways we can teach our children money skills that will serve them well as adults. These tips apply to grandparents too – children often prefer to listen to their grandparents rather than their own parents.
Any tip for teaching kids money depends on communication. Money is an issue that has been swept under the rug for generations. That has to stop. Talking about money with your kids or grandchildren is one of the best things you can do. Here are some conversation starters:
In the course of your life have you found it easy or difficult to manage money? Why?
What mistakes have you made in your life related to money?
What successes have you had in terms of money?
Artwork by Michael Osbun
What did your parents or grandparents teach you about money? We call these “money messages” that we received as children. An example could be: “Money doesn’t grow on trees” or “We never had enough money to make it to the end of the month” or “Except for a rainy day” or “Our parents lived through the Great Depression and they told us stories about it … “
It’s important to start the conversation even if it feels a bit like preaching. When it comes to money, opinion-based comments are warranted; For example, telling a child or grandchild that they should never buy something they cannot afford, or that it is a dangerous habit to have credit card debt month to month, or that many people who live in expensive homes, Striving to pay their bills each month because they are living beyond their means are all key. Share positive and negative money stories with them because they need to know that everyone makes mistakes. You also need to understand that many people are far less fortunate and generous in helping others.
Experiences to teach children about money
As well as talking about money, you can gain experience to give your children and grandchildren real-life examples.
When you go to a restaurant, let your child or grandchildren pay the bill (with your money). Use cash instead of a credit card. Help them count the money and calculate the tip – without a cell phone calculator. Calculate how much your family would have saved on this meal if you hadn’t ordered sodas or other beverages and drank water instead. Calculate how the savings can add up over a year.
When the pandemic is over, take your child or grandchild to a bank. Once they are a teen they can have a checking account, and many banks offer special services for teenagers and students. Show them how to write a check and fill out a check registration. You can also choose an online service like Quicken or Mint to manage your finances.
Games like Scrabble. This will teach your child or grandchildren spelling and vocabulary, but will also help them count their scores.
If interested, explain the definition of a stock and a bond, a mutual fund, a CD (certificate of deposit), a mortgage, and a credit score. If you know what these are, use your own definition. If you need help, you can find more information on the Internet. When you do research with your child or grandchild, you learn together.
Strategies based on age
Consider these strategies based on the age of your child or grandchild.
Age 3-9: Children can begin to understand the concept of money at a young age. Give them an allowance of $ 3 per week (or whatever amount you choose). Set up three mason jars, one labeled “Saving,” one labeled “Spend,” and one labeled Charity. Have your child split the $ 3 by putting $ 1 in each jar. They can explain that the savings jar should be saved for a specific item in the future, the money in the spending jar should be used for any time they want, and the money should be given to charity to someone in need. Starting an allowance of $ 3 per week for a child aged 3 or 4 is appropriate. As they get older, increase them to $ 5, $ 10, or more at will.
Age 10-17: This is the age when kids start to feel peer pressure to have nice clothes or the latest technology gadget. Talk to your children about values. Teach them that family and friends are far more important than money. If they need new jeans or sneakers, help them find discounts. When the pandemic is over, take them to a vintage clothing store and find some treasure. They establish their identity at this age, but that doesn’t have to include designer clothes. Let them make mistakes. When they buy expensive sneakers, you let them see that they would still have money if they opted for a high-quality, but less expensive, brand. Talk to them about the costs of government and non-government universities, as well as public and private universities. Discuss what your family can afford. Explore college loans with them.
Ages 18-29: Help your child or grandchild create a budget. Parents or grandparents can learn new financial skills at any age. If you haven’t set up the save to do it automatically for you, set it up now (via a taxable account or Roth IRA with a brokerage firm or bank account). Also, help your child or grandchild set up automatic savings accounts.
Discuss the storage examples in the box. These exercises teach the concept of compounding, which is a powerful financial tool. Play with the calculators at www.calculator.net for education loans, mortgages, and auto loans.
When your child goes to college, work with them on a monthly budget for their pocket money. Talk to them about credit cards, filing taxes, and maintaining a high credit score.
Discuss finances with your child or grandchildren. It will enrich your relationship and your child will benefit from your wisdom about money.
Donna Skeels Cygan, CFP, MBA, is the author of The Joy of Financial Security. She has been a paid financial planner in Albuquerque for over 20 years and is a branch manager for the Mercer Advisors New Mexico office. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.