Teaching your children about finances may seem like a weighty topic; however, it does not have to be challenging. By opening the lines of communication early and demonstrating good financial decisions of your own, you may set your children up for success. Here are four tips for teaching money management skills to the children in your life.
Model Responsible Behavior
The "do as I say, not as I do" approach may not be successful. You may inspire your children to be more responsible with money by talking over age-appropriate family financial decisions with them and outlining the reasons for your actions. By modeling healthy financial habits and engaging them in more complex topics as they grow older, you have the chance to equip your children with the ability to think critically about the important financial decisions they might face in early adulthood.
Start With the Basics
Money matters may be an ongoing conversation. Even before they enter school, most children are able to comprehend concepts like saving for a major purchase or earning money by working for others. As they grow older, they may learn about more in-depth topics such as investing, using insurance to protect against major losses, evaluating when to go into debt and how to save for retirement.
Teach Children to Save
Instilling in your children the ability to delay gratification may help create a lifelong habit of saving. This strategy means providing your children with opportunities to earn money through chores, helping out in the family business, babysitting when teens or working a gig. Then, helping them get into the habit of putting a certain percentage of these funds aside. When your children are able to use their own money for a purchase they want, they may gain confidence. And for tweens and teens, many banks even offer debit cards with additional protections to help them learn to manage their accounts, make budgeting decisions and save for the future.
Talk Through Spending Decisions
Part of a conversation about delayed gratification involves talking through major spending decisions before making them. For example, you may point out the difference in price between generic and name-brand breakfast cereal, noting that every dollar saved may go toward something else desired. You may have similar conversations about spending decisions regarding items your children want to purchase for themselves.
It may often be tough as a parent to step back and let your children "waste" their money on something you would not purchase. And it is fine to point out that a certain item may not be worth the money your child is planning to spend. But part of learning to make wise financial decisions may mean making mistakes along the way. Experiencing the disappointment in a cheap toy that breaks immediately may be a powerful learning experience. By maintaining open lines of communication with your child, you may work toward finding a nice balance between careful guidance and allowing independence.