Every parent wants their children to succeed. From social graces to the best education and even nutrition, parents work hard to steer their kids in the right direction. Nowhere is that more true than in the area of financial responsibility.
You want your kids to excel in responsible spending and saving habits, and you know it’s up to you to show them the way. So where do you start? What do you do? We’re glad you asked.
Teaching kids the art of saving money at an early age is both a privilege and a challenge. Here are a few simple tips to get you on the right track:
Toddlers love sorting activities, and can quickly learn the difference between coins. Under close supervision, let your little ones sort and stack what’s in your wallet. During outings, show your youngest child what happens when you (or they) hand that cash over – the cashier sends you off with goods!
Implement a Weekly Allowance.
It’s often said that “kids don’t come with instruction manuals,” but parents have access to the next best thing: The American Academy of Pediatrics Complete and Authoritative Guide. In it, the AAP recommends establishing a weekly allowance.
“An allowance motivates children to assume responsibilities around the home,” it says about the reward system. “Yes, children need to learn to care for themselves (clean up their room), but they also need to contribute to the family.” A few bucks a week can help spur kids into action. But a weekly dole-out isn’t just about getting kids to pitch in, according to the AAP. “An allowance [also] introduces children to the value of money --- to saving, budgeting, and planning. These are life skills that are important to acquire.” Skills that will make their life --- and yours --- a lot easier in the years to come.
Encourage The Drive to Earn.
Sometimes, an allowance will spark something in a child that you didn’t know was there. Remember, some kids may seem money-motivated, but they’re not yet capable of greed the way we adults know it. So recognize this drive as innocent, and a good opportunity to grow both their skills and your relationship.
If one of your children surprises you with a stand-out spirit of entrepreneurship, cultivate it. Visit the U.S. Bureau of Printing and Engraving (which prints our bills), or the U.S. Mint (responsible for the country’s coinage) on your next vacation instead of a theme park. Consider a trip to the Federal Reserve, and learn about how cash is distributed and circulated. Already going to the beach instead? Hop online and check out kids’ educational games and activities that teach valuable financial lessons.
Probably the most difficult of all, you’ll need to model the characteristics you’d like to see grow in your kids. Saving money at an early age is best learned by observation. Do they witness your inner struggle as you wrestle with temptation at the electronics store? Good. Do you give into that temptation of impulse buying nine times out of 10? Not good. Allow your kids to see your efforts and when you have overcome the urge to buy, share the feelings of power and freedom you experience, so they can celebrate with you.
As you look for tools to give your child, remember they already have the most important asset: a parent who cares. Your engagement and encouragement will set them on the right foot above any tactics you can employ.
What about you? What does your family do to maintain an environment of fiscal savvy at home? Comment below with your best ideas.
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Consumer Education Services, Inc. empowers people to overcome their financial challenges and lead financially-healthy lives.
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