As parents, we are our children’s first teachers. Before they ever set foot in a school they learn values like honesty, sharing and fairness from us. Teaching kids good money habits is also a life skill we shouldn’t want them to be without, like swimming and learning CPR. Here’s a few financial habits we should all want to impart on our children before they grow up and head off to college.
Make Savings A Priority
The younger you start teaching kids about savings the more likely they will continue the habit as they get older. Take a portion of birthday or holiday cash gifts and put them aside to save at least 30% or more. As the child gets older consider starting a savings account where they are able to go with you to the bank to make deposits and watch their balance grow.
Teach Them The Value Of A Dollar
When you’re out running errands and your child has a case of the ‘gimme’s,’ consider giving them an opportunity to work for what they are asking for. It’s been my experience that kids are less likely to spend money they had to work really hard for.
Don’t Hide The Bills
Not really suggesting you let your 6 year old sit in on your budget meetings with your spouse, but showing kids how much things cost like electricity or water cost and how it’s tied to their habits of leaving the lights on or leaving the water running when brushing their teeth may help give them some context, and put into perspective that things cost money.
Wet their Palette for Investing
In addition to gifts that add to their doll or car collection on their next birthday, consider adding a stock certificate from their favorite company as well. This will be a perfect opportunity to start the conversation of what a stock is and how it works when you hold the certificate for the long term.
Teach Them About Opportunity Costs
With the birthday money that isn’t put away in the bank, teach your child about opportunity costs. Maybe they want to buy new outfits for their dolls, but also want a new car to push them around in. Teaching them that the same money can’t be spent twice will help them better understand choices and how to analyze which spending opportunities will give them more bang for their buck!
Model Good Financial Behavior
Kids learn more from what we do than what we say, so practice what you preach to them. Keeping your own finances in order and setting a good example for them will be the ultimate factor to keeping them inspired to do the same.