You can start educating your kids about money even when they are very young. The financial habits people develop as they become older will be built on the financial lessons they acquire as children.
And many of these lessons are not likely to be taught in the classroom. In a GOBankingRates study, 76% of participants claimed that financial education in high schools is seriously deficient. More than a quarter of respondents claimed their parents didn’t talk to them about money management, and over 20% said their parents didn’t bring up the topic often.
The “Your Financial Mom” at Pathfinder Planning in Lake Wylie, South Carolina, Pam Horack, CFP, asserted that “money things” occur at every age, whether consciously or unconsciously. Individuals come from various backgrounds, and what they were taught as children will be our money script, she said.
Whether they are aware of it or not, parents teach their children about money. Intentionally teaching your children financial lessons can benefit them in ways beyond their financial well-being.
Sam X. Renick, a financial educator who developed the Sammy Rabbit storybooks and financial literacy programme to teach young children about money, advised parents to remember that their children are always observing and listening to them. “Regardless of how we feel about it, managing money is crucial for improving, preserving, and expanding one’s financial well-being. The proper financial practises can undoubtedly help one avoid a lot of unhappiness, even though money can’t necessarily purchase happiness.”
Whether they are in preschool and just learning how to count, saving their allowance for a particular gift, or starting their first job and learning how to manage their paychecks, the following steps can help you teach your kids about making wise financial decisions at every age.
Preschool and elementary school
Even at a young age, you can begin to take modest actions to teach your children how to think and feel about money, according to Renick. Expose young children to words like “save,” “money,” “goals,” “plan,” “spend,” “earn,” and “work” frequently, he advised.
“With laughter and joy, tell your infant, “Mommy or Daddy likes to save money!” while placing a penny or two in a clear glass jar. Say “Wohoo!” while shaking the jar like a rattle. Bring joy into the room. Have pleasure with a goal in mind.”
Let your kids recognise the coins you put into a jar — one penny, two pennies, three pennies — as they begin to learn how to count, advised Renick. Horack added, “The change is enjoyable. “It may be the subject of a maths game. It’s really tactile to learn what money is, how it looks, and how it feels. At that age, giving your children any form of money has an effect on them.”
As her children began discovering change that had fallen out of their grandfather’s pockets and into the sofa cushions, she began teaching them about money. I would give my kids half of whatever they found when they asked to clear out the sofa, Horack recalled. “Kids recall their first experiences with money in this way. It’s nice if those interactions are fruitful.”
Even a casual explanation of financial matters might have an impact on your kids’ early attitudes towards money. Children pick up on how we as parents handle money from us, according to Horack. For example, if you’re in a shop and your child wants a toy you don’t want to buy, it’s easy to say that you don’t have the money for the toy. Yet, she said, “that’s not what we mean.
“By that, we mean that we don’t spend money on it. Children assume you must be poor and unable to afford Legos when they hear you don’t have the money. Not that you can’t afford it, but that it’s not in the budget, is what you should say.” This is an excellent time to introduce your kids about options and trade-offs when it comes to financial decisions. You might say that we have a budget for things and that allows us to buy the items we need; this is not something we are choosing to spend the money on right now, she remarked.
When they get older, you might start bringing up money management. The one money lesson you should start teaching kids as early as possible, in addition to language, is to develop the habit of saving money, according to Renick. To start, they can set away some of the money they received for their birthdays to purchase a toy. “Saving money first is a lesson in and of itself.
Saving money teaches goal-setting and delayed gratification. It teaches how to organise, get ready, and safeguard scarce resources. Saving money regularly is a really beneficial habit to develop. It is a crucial component in creating, maintaining, and expanding one’s financial security, stability, and freedom over the course of one’s life.”
Throughout middle school, kids might begin to learn even more about saving first and putting off immediate satisfaction. You start to experience peer pressure at this point because other people have what you want and you want it too, Horack said. “Children begin establishing their values about what is essential in middle school, and it is crucial that parents begin assisting them in this process.”
Kids can start saving their allowance, birthday money, and whatever money they start to get through babysitting, mowing lawns, or other early jobs to start setting money down for bigger things over longer time periods.
Children should start learning about financial trade-offs at this age, as well as the worth of the things they purchase. “Before making a purchase, you should consider how long it took you to accumulate the funds needed. Was it time well spent?” The creator of CashCrunchGames, which educate children about money management, Paul Vasey, concurred.
Kids can begin practising some important financial concepts in middle school, such as figuring out how to calculate sales tax and tips, compute compound interest, and make change from purchases. Kids should practise managing and making decisions with money, preferably money they have earned themselves, according to Renick. They should practise making to-do and shopping lists, organising receipts, prioritising and listing wants and needs, reviewing statements — bank, investment, bills, credit card, pay stub — and performing trade-off and pro/con analysis.
As youngsters enter high school and begin to work part-time or during the summer, their financial ambitions grow larger and their options for saving expand. Kids can start saving money for broader financial objectives like purchasing a bike or car, concert tickets, or a special trip with friends, as well as for some of their usual expenses like movies or video games. You may also offer them some financial responsibility, like paying for petrol or car insurance.
As they begin to make more money, they can learn budgeting skills and how to set money aside for multiple purposes at once, something many children do not learn in school. 53% of respondents to the GOBankingRates study said they wished they had studied more about budgeting in high school.
When Horack’s high school students received their paychecks, she made them split the money into four different categories: saving for an immediate need, investing funds set aside for the long term, contributing 10% to charity or their church, and remaining funds for personal use.
When they got their first jobs, they started Roth IRAs so they could start setting aside money for retirement. They also set up a custodial brokerage account for investing, where they saved money for longer-term objectives over the following several years. After turning 59 12 years old, they will be able to take their Roth IRA gains tax-free, and they can withdraw their contributions at any point without incurring any fees or taxes. You only need to have some income from employment to start a Roth IRA; there is no minimum age restriction. Your children may contribute up to what they made through employment during the previous year, up to a maximum of $6,000 in 2022. You can either provide them with the funds to invest with or match their donations.
Children should start learning about investment now. In the GOBankingRates study, 53% of participants stated they wished they had learned more about investing in school, and 44% claimed that their lack of financial knowledge had the most negative impact on their lives since it had caused them to avoid investing because they didn’t understand it.
As soon as your child obtains their first job, you may set up a custodial Roth IRA and begin contributing funds so they can observe the growth. “There’s $100 here, and in 60 years when they truly retire, that $100 is going to be worth a lot more,” said Horack. Consumers have the option to invest in single equities or mutual funds, such as target-date funds, where financial advisors put together a portfolio of mutual funds to match their investments with their time horizon. The youngsters can begin learning about investing and observe how the stock market fluctuates, but since they have 60 years to wait before withdrawing their funds, they stand to gain from keeping their money invested for the long haul.
Children might also start learning about the price of college at this time. Early on in high school, discuss your expectations with them because this can influence their college decisions later on. Do you intend to pay a set sum for your child’s education and let them make up the difference with their own money, student loans, scholarships, and part-time work? a few more………….. Before kids begin visiting universities, bring up these concerns so they can consider the price when making their choices.
When Horack’s son was a senior in high school, she instructed him, “Your duty right now is to acquire scholarships.” He recently graduated from high school. Investing time on scholarship applications can reduce college expenditures by thousands of dollars, offering a considerably greater return than the majority of student employment.
When your children go to college, they have to undertake a lot of financial duties on their own. This is frequently “just-in-time” financial learning, according to Horack. If they have a student job, they will have to deal with their own bank account, file tax returns, buy books and a computer, and pay for extras and amusement.
It’s also a time to help them learn about some financial decisions that will become much more essential when they graduate. After living in the dorms, if they have a variety of possibilities for off-campus housing, for instance, it’s a good opportunity to discuss expenses and trade-offs and what it means for their budget when comparing their options. They’ll learn about the method for making rent payments, splitting utilities with roommates, and buying groceries.
If you are providing your kids money for expenses, it can be helpful to give them a lump sum each semester, explaining that they need to learn to budget and that they might need to use their own money to pay for additional costs like entertainment.
As teenagers assume greater financial responsibility, this is also an excellent moment to discuss with them their credit score. Treat your credit score similarly to your academic GPA, advised Vasey. “Employers use your GPA to assess your academic aptitude. Financial organisations assess your financial responsibility based on your credit score and your financial history. Discover the guidelines for raising your credit score.”
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It’s not too late to continue teaching them some money lessons. Talk about how you pay bills and allocate money from your paycheck for expenses, and the deductions that are taken from your paycheck — including taxes, 401(k) contributions, insurance, and other employee benefits. As they’re applying for and choosing a job, consider the value of these benefits beyond the salary. “You need to learn how to read your paystub, and there are benefits you have to consider,” said Horack.
This is also the time to start learning about organizing their money. They may have a lot more money coming in than ever before, but they also have a lot more things to spend it on — and new opportunities to help with future savings, too. Even if they don’t create a detailed budget for their spending, they still need to make decisions about the big categories. They’ll need to pay their regular bills, may have to make student loan payments, and may also have medium-term goals, such as buying a house or car in a few years.
And don’t forget about retirement savings. Even though that might not seem important now, setting aside even a little money when they’re young can grow significantly by the time they retire. They’ll need to save so much less to reach the same goals if they start early, and their employer may match their contributions. Don’t miss out on this opportunity.
They may have a 401(k) at work for the first time, which provides tax benefits and makes it easy to save automatically for the future before they can spend the money on anything else. If they don’t have a 401(k), they can set up automatic payments into a traditional or Roth IRA to accomplish a similar goal. “Monthly IRA or 401(k) contributions from your savings account or directly from your paycheck can be a seamless way to build a portfolio and make your money work for you,” said Lindsey Bell, chief markets and money strategist at Ally Bank. They can take advantage of financial education and calculators available from their employer, 401(k) administrator, or bank to see how much the money can grow in the future.
Encourage them to automate many of their regular bills, too, so they won’t miss deadlines and they’ll know the money will go there before they have a chance to spend it on anything else. “One of the easiest ways to get organized with your money is to make it an afterthought through automation,” said Bell.
It’s also an important time to talk about debt and the importance of an emergency fund to help them avoid high-interest debt in the future. More than 20% of the GOBankingRates survey participants said that the lack of financial education cost them the most because they’ve paid higher interest rates on loans than they should have, and more than 15% said they’ve taken on debt and don’t know how to pay it off. If they’re making student loan payments, talk with them about the repayment options, how those choices can affect their budget, and the long-term impact of the debt.
At this point, they’re also ready to step back and think about their financial priorities and big-picture goals for their money. “Create a written money philosophy that minimally addresses saving, investing, spending, giving, credit, and insurance,” said Renick. They can follow this plan for years in the future, which can help them stay on track as they earn more money and need to take on more responsibilities.