CONSIDER THIS: Parents want their children to have a good handle on finances before kids leave the house in their late teens or early 20s, but most aren’t sharing the necessary wisdom to make that happen.
T. Rowe Price’s 2017 Parents, Kids and Money survey found 69 percent of parents have some reluctance discussing financial matters with kids. About 35 percent of parents rated talking to their children about family finances as either very or extremely uncomfortable—ranking it alongside talks about death and drugs.
However, whether it’s through a weekly allowance, saving birthday and Christmas money in a piggy bank, or helping them open a checking account after kids start their first job, parents significantly influence how their children will manage their finances throughout life. With April being National Financial Literacy Month, this is a good time to teach your children about money management. Here are some tips.
Set an example. Children who consistently see their parents pay the bills on time and keep up a budget are more likely to adopt those practices in their own lives. Parents who have made financial mistakes should also share the experience with their children. That knowledge can equip kids to avoid these money mistakes in the future.
Make savings a tangible concept. Encourage younger kids to collect spare change in a clear jar or container so they can see their savings grow. Once full, children can count the money and use the funds to purchase an extra-special treat. They’ll associate a sense of excitement with savings—and understand that delaying gratification can lead to a greater payoff down the road. Parents of teens can apply the same concepts to their adolescent’s first savings account. They can be encouraged to delay gratification to save for something larger.
Have kids learn with their own money. Kids will learn the value of a dollar better if the dollar is their own. They’ll begin to appreciate what these items cost and be more open to lessons about price comparison. So, whether through an allowance or payment for household chores, provide children with some cold hard cash. Teenagers should be encouraged to get a job, even if it’s a part-time gig on weekends or vacations.
Get kids familiar with banking. Parents can make a trip to the credit union an exciting event for younger kids. Let them in on the process—press the buttons on the ATM or help fill out a deposit slip. Pre-teens can open their own checking accounts and become familiar with handling checks and debit cards.