How Kids Can Form A Healthy Relationship With Money
Money makes the world go around, right? Though most of the population dedicates themselves to their daily work grind, with money on the mind, it’s important to remember that income doesn’t define who you are. Rewriting this narrative and passing down your knowledge and healthy financial habits to children is a great goal to adopt as a parent. A poll by CNBC and Momentive concluded that the, “Majority of parents (83%) say parents are responsible for teaching children finances, yet 31% say they “never” talk to their children about household finances.”
There are many ways that you can engage your kids with conscious conversations about money in your daily life and empower their financial future. Keep reading for our best tips on how to get started!
Think About Your Own Relationship With Money
One of the first steps to educating your kids about money, is to reflect on your own relationship with the coin. It takes a great level of commitment and self-awareness to identify where your own relationship to money may need improvement, but it’s well worth the effort. You may have had a positive experience learning about money in your own childhood, and be able to translate those methods into the current day and age. On the other hand, you may feel that there was a lack of learning opportunities or that you adopted some anxiety from your family’s financial situation or emotions on the subject.
Try to identify where your faults are and how you can improve; if you’re nervous about money or are a big shopper that tends to stretch your budget, these are areas that you can work on. Being aware of the relationship you have with your finances and working to improve these habits will put you in a good place to pass off wisdom to your own kids. Whether or not it seems like it, children soak up everything like sponges and will pick up emotions that you project about money. Adopting a positive outlook will ensure that money isn’t a sore subject as they grow up.
Financial literacy continuously develops throughout the course of your life, so you may even want to do some additional research before giving your children lessons or answering their questions.
Distinguish Between Wants and Needs
Saying no to your children can be a very tough situation to be in, as a parent. You want to give them the world but still remain disciplined, so try to treat these scenarios as teachable moments. One of the most important lessons that you can give your children is helping them understand the difference between wants and needs. Kids are masterminds when it comes to convincing you that they need the latest gaming console, toy, or electronic. Make sure to stick to your gut, even if they’re on the verge of a public meltdown or comparing what they have to their friends. Younger children often have trouble grasping the concept of wants vs. needs because they’re still dealing with regulating big emotions.
As you go about your daily life, try to use “want” and “need” in the correct context, helping your kids sort out the difference as well. Explain to them that you need to buy food at the grocery store to keep everyone healthy and that they need to wear a coat outside when it’s cold. These are ways you’re keeping everyone safe and protected. It may upset your child that you cannot always purchase everything they ask for, so remain compassionate but firm in your decision. If a material item means enough to them, tell them they can ask for it for their birthday or wait for a holiday to come around.
Going through your budget in an extremely simplified way will help them understand how much you have to spend to keep your family safe and sound. Everything is a give and take, so asking for this toy or “want” may lead to sacrificing something else they enjoy, according to the shared family budget.
Find Opportunities for Engagement Early
Starting your kids’ financial education early is the best way for them to learn. Continue looking for age-appropriate (and engaging) ways to teach your children what everything is worth, in addition to saving and spending tips.
1. Saving and Spending Lessons
Start your kids’ savings journey with something palpable, like a piggy bank. You may have a savings account for them, but seeing the physical money will mean they can practice counting what they have and understand the concept of worth better when it comes to material goods. Taking this money, counting it out, and handing it to the cashier at a store can teach them that money isn’t limitless.
Asking them if they really want the product in question or if they would rather save for something more expensive will help them weigh their options when it comes to spending. You may also want to give your children weekly or daily chores in exchange for an allowance. Little things like taking out the trash or doing the dishes can help them connect hard work with monetary gain.
2. Book Series
Finding money books for kids that narrate real ways they can save, spend, and invest is another great avenue for educational opportunities. It may be easier for your children to grasp certain concepts if you compare them to examples in books. Not to mention, this can be an engaging way to capture their attention and open up the floor for questions. Our new book in the Financially Fit Kidz series, Darius Wants A Dog, teaches kids about the responsibility that comes with a dog, how much it costs, and the care you have to give a pet. Using examples like these real life scenarios, and sparking conversations with the tip sheet in the back of the book, is a great way for your kids to form a healthy relationship with money.
3. Educational Games
If your kids enjoy games, this can be another engaging way to teach them lessons about how money can be a tool in their lives. If you have older kids, they may be able to understand how their savings and jobs will eventually allow them to get a cool car or a fancy house. Using timeless games like MASH or board games like Pay Day or Monopoly can help them practice counting money and thinking creatively about their futures. Online games about money vary depending on age and education level, but can be a fun way to keep your kids on their toes.
Try to use visual examples wherever possible. If you’re practicing money counting, you can pile up some change and have them guess how many pennies equal a nickel or dime, for example. They may be excited to show off their evolving math skills. Tapping into your creativity and coming up with some price guessing games can be an affordable way to educate your children as well. Once they’ve practiced counting bills and change, have them take their best shot at determining how much money is in a clear jar. You can also challenge them to guess the prices of groceries at the store or as they’re being put in the pantry at home.
Money You Should Ask Podcast
Epsiode 174: I Am Not Your ATM – Rachel Murphy
“I think for a lot of people, they feel inadequate, especially parents. I don’t know enough to teach my kids because nobody taught me when I was a teenager. So I’m just gonna let the school do it. Which is not really happening.”
Adjust As Your Kids Get Older
Reflect on the age you were when you started to inquire about managing money or understanding the value of it. This may help you figure out a timeline for teaching your children about certain topics. Your kids will continue to evolve in their relationship with money as they grow up, and you’ll be able to start introducing more complex concepts. As they reach middle school or high school, you’ll be able to have more serious conversations about saving for college, summer jobs, or life goals.
Consider opening a starter bank accounts to make sure that they gain experience in understanding how their spending habits affect their credit score. You may be able to talk about monthly car payments and help them understand how debt-to-income ratio impacts financial goals like buying a home. You can also start expanding their knowledge of money from simply spending and saving into options like donating and investing.
There are many financial topics that they may feel far removed from in their young life, but are key components to their financial empowerment journey. Making sure that you’re a resource for them from an early age and continuing to further their education will pay off when they have to start making bigger life decisions. They grow up faster than you’d imagine, so make sure it’s something you don’t put off for long.
Starting to discuss money with your children early will set them up for success. Children typically mirror the decisions and attitudes of their parents, so make sure to be a good role model for your young ones. Emphasizing that money is only a tool and shouldn’t be the main priority will also go a long way. Setting goals with your children and helping them foresee their dreams and what they want out of life will put them on a healthier path as they move towards an adulthood of self-sufficiency. Make sure to check out some money books for kids, including Darius Wants A Dog, and our series on Financially Fit Kidz to begin your child’s journey to financial empowerment today!