No matter your age, money can be a stressful and overwhelming topic but it doesn’t have to be. It’s never too early to learn financial literacy, open a savings account or delve into the investment world. Children are growing up in a digital age surrounded by new technologies, credit card chip readers and online banking apps. To teach children how to properly manage money, we need to get back to the basics – with the visual of coins and bills in hand so they can see how every penny counts in our ever-changing virtual world. Below are some quick tips to help you engage your child on the early path to financial success.
- Back to basics. In order for children to manage money, they need to be able to count bills and coins. As part of the general learning process, introduce money counting as a fun game – not only will it enhance a child’s math capabilities, it will familiarize the child to the world of currency.
- Every penny counts. It is easy for children to lose track of the value of a dollar since all it takes is the swipe of a plastic card or the click of a button to purchase anything imaginable. Equip children with the tools needed to manage a small budget that can be used for special occasions of the child’s choosing. Allow children to earn money through chores, regular allowances, or entrepreneurial activities such as shoveling snow for neighbors. Managing a small budget will teach children to not spend more than is earned.
- Lead by example. Earning, saving and spending money gives children decision making power. This power allows children to make decisions about needs, wants and wishes while making a purchase. Lead by example in your everyday life by explaining to your children the reason behind your purchases, whether they fulfill the family’s basic needs of groceries or the purchase of an elaborate vacation. These lessons will help children to develop their own strong decision making skills as a consumer.
- Open a savings account. Take your child to your local community bank location to open a savings account. Your child will have ownership in their financial success and the ability to officially track their spending and savings habits. Encourage your child to ask questions so they have a full understanding of the process and how a bank operates.
- Explore more options. After children understand the basic principles of saving and spending money, help them explore more advanced options. As children grow older, introduce them to budgeting apps, investment options and mortgages. The earlier children learn about this information, the more understanding they will have of the concepts.
Investing financial knowledge in our youngest generations can contribute to prosperous financial futures. Building on lessons that can start at home, schools and community groups are often instrumental in teaching children about the importance of developing healthy money habits early in life. While children continue to learn and grow in a rapidly changing world, the old adage, “every penny counts” will always be relevant to smart financial behavior and decisions.