I thought it would be nice to come up with a list of opportunities you could use to teach kids about money.
Little Miss PT is a bit young at this point for a lesson, but she’s already interested in our wallets and curious about the exchanges at the register.
I’m sure some of you more experienced parents can share some good ideas as well. Let me hear from you in the comments.
Take Your Child to Work – I like this idea because it can fill in the blank when it comes to the “spend less than you earn” concept. Kids can grow up never knowing where the money comes from. It’s important to show them that Mom and Dad spend time and effort away from home to be able to afford to spend money later. The money for spending doesn’t just appear. This is also a good opportunity for you to ask them how they think they could earn money if they needed to.
Avoid the “Can’t Afford It” Excuse – I’m guilty of using these words from time to time. But I know it doesn’t add any value. Instead, I aim to use phrases like “it’s not our priority right now”, or “we’re spending our money elsewhere.” It’s a way of giving you back the control and showing your kids that you are making a decision instead of having life dictated to you.
Talk with Them at the Register – When shopping, use the time at the cash register to tell them that you are purchasing things with money that has been earned at your job. If you use a credit card, explain how that works and how it’s actually still using your money. And not some magical “get things free” card.
Show Them How You Pay Bills – Have them help you with the monthly bill payment process. Show them how to write a check and explain that concept. Discuss with them your online bill pay set up and how that works. While you’re online, show them these kids and money online resources.
Volunteer for a Charity and Discuss Needs vs Wants – Spend some time together as a family involved in a charitable cause. Teach them how you are providing for the needs for others.
Split Allowances Into 4s – If you give them a weekly allowance, implement a 4 jar method. Use 4 mason jars to split up their allowance into savings, giving, spending, and taxes. Tell them why it’s important to allot money to each jar. To explain compound interest, offer to match the amount that they put in their savings jar each week.
Open Up a Real Savings Account – Visit your local bank and have them open up a savings account. Or simply open up an account for them at one of the many online banks. A SmartyPig savings account would be a great idea. I still remember opening up my very first savings account. It was a passbook savings account.
Enlist Their Choices When Shopping – Don’t just pick everything out for them at the store. Give them choices as well. Let them choose between 2 different types of healthy cereal. Have them look at the price of each and allow them to make a decision based on that. Show them how to find a coupon online for their favorite items.
Discuss Commercials and Other Ads – We’re bombarded with thousands of advertising messages each day. My goal will be to avoid many of these messages by not watching too much TV, and by counter-acting the messages with discussions about intent, as well as wants vs needs. This is also a good time to refer back to that savings account. If kids see something they want on TV, have them go count their funds in the piggy bank or savings account.
Don’t Tie Grades and Basic Chores to Allowance – One opportunity I wouldn’t think would be a great time to talk about money is when you’re discussing grades and basic household chores. I view these as things my kids should be expected to do without pay.
So those are my thoughts on teaching your kids about money. What are some of your ideas?