One of the challenges that parents face as they help their children learn and grow is how to encourage them in saving money. It can be hard to teach children, who often live in the moment, to plan ahead for a nebulous future. The good news is that you can help your child get excited about saving money if you make it fun.
Use Physical Money to Start
Children as young as four or five can begin learning about money and participate in household finances. However, because young children have difficulty with abstract concepts like money, it helps if you can add a physical element to your lessons.
Start with cash. Young children will be more interested in coins than paper money. Create a visible way for them to see their coins adding up. A see-through bank that sorts coins can be a fun way to encourage your kids to associate saving up with fun activities. Even a jar can be a useful aid to teaching children. Encourage them to pick up pennies and other coins they find and add them to the jar. Watching the money pile grow is a fun introduction to saving.
Let Your Child Participate in Family Finances
Our children like to emulate us. Get your child excited to save money by allowing him or her to “help” you with the family finances. Let your child help you clip coupons and participate in age-appropriate discussions.
Even when you have a limited income, you can save for the future. Create a shared goal for going out to dinner or the movies. Set out a jar. Have everyone contribute and make sure your kids see you adding dollar bills or coins to the jar. It’s more fun when you make saving a family affair.
Today’s kids are digital natives. Let your child use technology to learn about money by playing games and apps. Let your child use barcode scanner apps on your phone or tablet when you go shopping to emphasize the importance of comparison shopping.
One strategy for children aged eight and older is to allow them to save up their money with the help of online accounts. Open a joint account with your child. Every so often, when they do jobs or you pay allowance, write a check. Let your child use the remote deposit function on the bank’s mobile app to take a picture and deposit the check. Even if you aren’t using cash, your kids can get involved physically with saving money. Every month, let them look at how the balance is growing, and point out the interest earnings they receive.
Use Trackers and Rewards
Finally, make saving money fun by using trackers and rewards. Set up a system where your child can color in a chart until a goal is reached. Encourage your child to draw a picture of the savings goal or to cut out a picture of the target toy. Sticker charts and other progress trackers can be a fun way for young children to stay motivated and see how close they are to reaching their goals.
You can also reward your children for saving money. Consider a “matching program” if your child saves at least 10 percent of his or her allowance or offer to take him or her out to ice cream if they go a whole month without spending their money. Come up with attractive rewards to encourage further saving.
With the right incentives, you can make saving money fun for your children --- and teach them to grow up to make better decisions.
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