Moms work hard to equip their children with the proper tools for maneuvering through life’s obstacles. We teach our children to be compassionate, hard working, and generous. We teach them about kindness, gratitude, and perseverance. But, how many of us spend deliberate time teaching our children about financial management?
Instilling good money habits into the lives of our children should begin when they are young. A bit of education now will pay off later - literally.
Intelligent money skills are best learned by practice. Introduce your children to the concepts of money, budgeting, saving, and spending. Here are some thoughts to get you started.
Children always want things. They see something on TV, on the shelves at a toy store, or at their friend’s house, and they want one too. When your child asks for something, take the opportunity to discuss what it means to create a budget and to save up for a much desired product.
Begin by demonstrating and teaching the differences between needs, wants, and wishes. Model this when buying a new appliance for your house or when your child wants a toy she saw on TV. Your conversation might focus on why you needed this for your home, how you shopped around for the best price, and how you determined that you had the money to make the purchase.
Take your child to the bank. With everything done electronically today, most of us never have to step foot in the bank anymore. A visit to the bank is a great learning lesson for your child. She can observe the process of counting, depositing, or withdrawing money. Think of the questions such a trip will stimulate!
Children are always wanting (or “needing”) something. Despite your best efforts above to teach the difference between needs, wants, and wishes - your child will still need, need, need. That’s ok. When your child needs the latest and greatest toy on the market, you have an opportunity to introduce budgeting and saving. Help your child develop a system for saving.
Set up opportunities for your child to earn an allowance. You might not want to pay him for chores that come with living in your family’s household (making his bed, clearing his dishes, etc.), but identify other ways your child can earn money at home. Perhaps he’ll be in charge of wiping the table after dinner, taking out the trash, or folding the laundered towels.
Give. Invest. Save. And live. This is a great motto to teach your child as he is earning money. A portion of what he gets (10% is a good standard) goes to giving. A portion goes to investing. A portion goes to saving, and the rest he can spend whenever he wants.
Allow your children to make mistakes with their money. Your daughter’s regret over her impulse buy will teach her a valuable lesson. When your son chooses to spend his money on a toy that you know will be broken or disregarded in a few days, bite your tongue. Allowing him to make his own choices regarding his money spending and to feel the consequences of his choices is essential to learning proper money management.
When our children grow up with a strong sense of money - how it is spent, how it is valued, and how we make money-related decisions - they will be well-prepared for managing their own money wisely.