If you can recall how good financial habits and becoming money aware were instilled into your childhood then it’s probably safe to assume that learning those skills at a young age have been beneficial to your financial well-being today as an adult. The family is the first place your children learn about money and one of the most common concerns for parents today is getting their kids engaged in developing good financial habits.
With children able to grasp the concept of money by the age of 3, why are less parents having a major influence in their child’s money awareness development? The challenge is that many of us may struggle in this department on our own. Having the confidence to speak on a boring topic such as finance to our children when we ourselves may be struggling, could be discouraging. Further, expecting your 8-year-old to come to the table for a mature conversation about fiscal responsibility may be unrealistic. Regardless of your financial situation, if you have children, making an effort to create a positive influence on all aspects of money is as important as teaching them to eat healthy, being respectful, and learning to read and write. And the lessons you teach them could also have a positive influence on your own financial challenges.
So, in the spirit of bridging the finance gap and instilling strong financial habits for both you and your children, here are 5 ways to make your child more money aware:
#1: GET A SCIENCE KIT
For parents with younger children, the important lessons have less to do with dollars and cents, and more to do with helping your kids develop healthy mental habits around money. One of the most important lessons you can instill in your child is the rewards that come from delaying gratification. Studies show that kids who can avoid instant gratification in favor of a future reward perform much better than their more impulsive counterparts in adulthood.
A butterfly kit is a fun science project that offers a great example of a delayed reward. Help your child set up the kit and have them be responsible for basic care over the next 30 days while waiting for the caterpillars to begin the transformation process. Together you will learn about the natural world while exercising patience and care. The experience guides all involved to develop a strong sense of working towards goals over time and the potential of earning larger rewards as a result. Projects like this build a stronger sense of self-worth which can influence the future of work and investing.
#2: VACATION COMMITEE
This year, millions of families across the country will take an opportunity to explore another part of the world. Aside from escaping the day to day grind of working life, parents recognize that exposing kids to other places, and other ways of life will help them grow as individuals. While the benefits of travel are well understood, take advantage of the planning to make your children more money aware.
Involving your children in the vacation planning process will give them more appreciation for the costs of travel and empower them financially. Over the course of several discussions, lay out the costs associated with your trip. Discussing things like flights and hotels with the kids will help them appreciate how much you will be spending. Include them in planning excursions and challenge them to confront things like scarcity in how to allocate limited funds to maximize family enjoyment. It’s a valuable lesson that will build more than just memories.
#3: BOARD GAMES
Playing games is one of the best ways to trigger similar actions of the mind used for becoming money-aware. Strategizing and planning are used during game play forcing a player to internalize information and deal with it. Some of the most important lessons your children will ever learn, they will learn without realizing that’s what’s happening. So take advantage of their natural desire to play, compete, and unconsciously learn.
Try playing a board game like monopoly as a family as often as possible. Playing money type games will have your children thinking about finances, investing, and saving on a micro level while having fun. Learning lessons in money management while you play will be encouraging to all involved and an affirmation of their financial skill set. Building confidence over finances is half the battle.
#4: PAY FOR HIRE
Putting the kids to work around the house, although probably not their favorite thing to do, will be the most impactful on their journey to becoming money aware.
Instill a sense of responsibility by offering chores of varying levels of difficulty like doing the dishes, taking out the garbage, and walking the family dog. Teaching them to tackle the hardest job first and quickly will be a valuable lesson. Recognize them for their efforts and make pay fair to encourage them to routinely take care of common household chores assigned to them. Have them save a percentage of their earnings and keep a little extra for something they want to indulge in. You can also help them plan to save for that special thing.
Once they have some money saved up, let them spend it how they see fit. Highlight the freedom they’ve earned from earning their own money.
#5: The 401p-IGGY BANK
When it comes to teaching kids about savings, the piggy bank is about as basic as one can get. Your grandfather probably had one sitting next to his bed being stocked with shoe shining money. The genius of the piggy bank is in its inaccessibility, you decide to save the money and you can’t get at it unless of course you want to permanently liquidate your piggy fund and crush the pig.
Put a new spin on the classic savings bank by opening a retirement (like) account for your kids in the house.
Let’s face it, even in your 40’s, smashing a large glass pig with a hammer seems fun. Your kids won’t be any less excited than you when that day finally comes. With that said, you can add to the excitement on the front end by offering a match on savings. Parents who want to go the extra mile can set up 2 jars. One is a “spending jar” with an open lid. Money in the “spending jar” can be accessed at any time for anything. Money in the piggy bank however is there for good, and any contributions made by your children should be matched either fully or partially at your discretion.
The free money should make your kids think twice before putting everything in the spending jar.
So as you move to make your children more financially savvy, use this list of suggestions as a starting point to involve your children in finances and make them more money aware. Instilling the skills of a “money-aware” mindset will help your children and you more than just about anything else you can teach them.
What’s more, aside from the minor benefits discussed throughout like having a cleaner house, a pre-planned vacation, parents should expect to profit from these kinds of activities too. It’s no secret that failure to launch is becoming almost the norm these days. The cost of shielding your children from financial learning could come at your expense. Your dreams of a retirement house on some beach may have to take a back seat if you’re supporting children deep into their twenties.
So which of these suggestions could you employ this week to help boost your families financial acumen? Keep in mind it’s never too late to start teaching your children no matter what their age is.
However you choose to proceed, make it fun. While kids will still need some time to be kids, if you can sneak in a few solid financial lessons while they’re growing up, they’ll never stop thanking you later in life.
Engage with the entire King Financial Network team on www.kingfn.com to see what other expert advice we can provide towards your financial well-being.
Tony Kelly is the Director of Financial Planning and Partner at King Financial Network. Tony focuses on investment planning and economic research. He is responsible for the due diligence of investment companies and portfolios as well as the preparations of KFN's valued client reviews and performance reporting.
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