There are plenty of skills in life that are learned the hard way. Money management doesn’t have to be one of them! Unfortunately, we can all reflect upon a time when a credit card balance seemed out of control, a large purchase we made felt coerced, or when we asked ourselves that age-old question, “where did all my money going?”
Imagine confidently facing financial decisions with knowledge far beyond your years. What if you’d known more about money management when you were 18, or 15, or 10? How can we instill financial confidence in our kids, so they’ll be ready for the challenges life throws them?
True, money isn’t always the most exciting conversation topic. But adding some goals, some games, and some casual conversations about money can be life-changing for your kiddo. Instead of a passive attitude toward kids and their finances, we can take charge of the conversation without making it boring or scary.
Three Ways to Teach Your Kids About Money
Arguably the most adorable way to introduce saving to many children. It’s a great strategy to give young kids a tangible way to understand money. The feel of money, differences in denominations, colors, and sizes can all be learned at this stage.
For older kids with access to a smartphone or tablet, virtual piggy banks might be the solution. These apps act like bank accounts and help track progress toward a savings goal. Parents can reward kids for doing chores, keep an eye on their progress, and discuss saving for wants vs. needs. In a world where money is more and more virtual, these apps bring an update to vital financial lessons.
Take Your Kids Shopping
The grocery store is full of valuable teaching moments! Even if many of your purchases are made with cards (debit or credit), you can opt to get a paper receipt to show kids that there is something behind swiping, tapping, or digitally connecting that magic money card and receiving products.
Talk about what you spend on necessities vs. wants. When you spend too much, talk about what that means for your goals. If your child wants to buy something extra, encourage them to save up for it themselves. As kids get older, you can even let them plan the family food budget for a week or budget for their own back-to-school shopping.
Set Short-term Goals
Having a goal is a great idea to encourage children to save money. Instead of buying them the toy or experience they want, or just saying no, you can turn it into a savings goal. Help your kid figure out how much they need to save, how much they can save a week, and what they can do to earn or save more and get there sooner.
For older kids, consider going beyond the piggy bank with a youth savings account at Sierra Pacific. Start teaching them how transactions affect the balance in their account. A youth checking accounts can introduce the responsibility of using a debit card for purchases. As your kid gets older, add longer-term goals like saving for a summer trip or even college or a car. Extra purchases—going to the movies, buying a new game—come after the bigger goal.
But where do kids get money to save?
Many can recall the exciting times of opening birthday or holiday cards with cash gifts or checks from a generous relative. Birthday money is great, but there are so many opportunities to teach your kids about earning money, not just receiving it.
- An allowance, in exchange for weekly responsibilities, can teach children that work correlates with money. This can also facilitate the illusion of salary where a simple budget can come into play.
- Odd jobs for family members, neighbors, and other community members are a good way to make money. Depending on your child’s age, they can do jobs like babysitting, pet walking, lawn care, snow removal, or countless other odds and ends.
- Encourage your kids to start a business! Young entrepreneurs learn endless life lessons, including how to turn an idea into action, and how to budget for a business. Check out these ideas for starting a business with your kid
The difference between earned and gifted money is HUGE for all of us, especially for children.
Putting in work earns money, which they can save up for purchases that mean so much more than the product itself. This can also lead your child to treat purchases with care as they now know the value of a dollar. The confidence gained by learning about finances can keep kids from feeling pressure or anxiety in financial situations later in life.
So, go get started! Use these tricks to start getting kids comfortable talking about money. There are endless tools, conversation guides, and lesson plans online to help you. The truth is, any amount of money talk with your kids is better than nothing. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be. Good luck, and remember that Sierra Pacific is here to help you set up youth accounts when you—and your kid—are ready.