Children are impressionable and soak up everything all around them, and that includes your every move as a parent. Knowing that should make your decision as a parent to exhibit positive behavior and instill good habits, that much easier. Look for fun games to play with them like Monopoly, or read the Wall Street Journal to them. This is a time to be creative in teaching healthy financial habits to your children. Granted, living in these tough economic times can be a challenge to always do what is best financially, but with discipline, open communication, and dedication you can teach your children ways to be successful financially that will have long-lasting effects.
Want some tips to get you started? Take a closer look at these ideas as a springboard.
Needs vs. Wants
When you take your weekly trip to the grocery store with your children in tow, it’s the perfect opportunity to show them, and explain to them what they need, like school supplies, and what they do not need and just want, like chewing gum. The more you have conversations on needs vs. wants, the easier and clearer the concept becomes to your children in due time.
Divide and Conquer
This is a good one to start early. Get four jars, and label each individually as, Sharing, Spending, Short-term Saving, and Long-term Saving. Have your children divide their allowance into these four categories and deposit into the jars. You could have them divide their allowance equally for all four jars, or come up with a percentage for each like, 10% long-term, 20% short term, 30% sharing, and 40% spending. You can even have them fill out a deposit and balance slip each week for each deposit so they can see their money grow.
Bank on Knowledge
The old adage “seeing is believing” holds true for showing your children healthy financial habits. Take your children with you inside when you visit the bank or cash your paycheck. Have your favorite teller explain deposits and withdrawls to your children and even have her carefully explain the process and purpose of ATMs.
Pay by the Chore
I am sure you keep a tidy list on your fridge of all of the chores that your children must do on a weekly or even daily basis. Well, why not put a dollar amount on each chore, with some being valued more than others. Like for example, cutting the grass being $5, and cleaning the bathroom $2, and so on, this will help to teach your children the value of hard work and the value of money overall.
If you’ve got a teen in the house, challenge them to create a budget. Have them jot down all of their expenses, from movies to food, then have them subtract those from their income (allowance or part-time job earnings). This way they can have a clear picture of where their money is coming from and how it is spent. This could also serve as a launching pad for ideas for them to find ways to save money, like for a new car, or for college.
Planning on a Budget
Surprise! You’ve just told your fourth grader that they are in charge of planning their best friend’s birthday party and that five other classmates are coming to the party. Have her estimate how much it will costs to have sandwiches, cake and ice cream for the party guests. This can be used countless ways, all in the name of inspiring your children to always think about what events and items costs and how to budget for them.
Back to School Saving
School is about to be back in session. Use this time to get your children to focus on the costs of school supplies and to look for the least expensive options. Let them observe how much money can be saved with less expensive backpacks, pens, and notebooks. Do the same next year and compare how much they improve on their saving savvy.