Even small children can be taught basic money concepts. Learning how to save and spend wisely are essential skills that will last a lifetime.
It’s never too early to talk to children about finances. Even preschoolers can learn simple money concepts while playing grocery store. Children often learn about money from their parents. How parents spend money and talk about bills in the presence of children speaks volumes. Teaching some simple lessons and techniques can help children establish positive spending and saving habits later in life.
Knowing the Difference between Want and Need
The simplest, yet one of the most important, lesson to teach children is the difference between want and need. Children often express their “need” to have something. Use this as a jumping off point for discussion. Discuss a few scenarios or create a game in an “I Spy” style. Even young children can understand that they need clothing, food and shelter, but want the latest video game.
Work on Counting Skills
Teach kids how to count money. Sounds simple, but it’s a common assumption that children automatically understand the concept of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. Create a work sheet to help children understand how to make, count and receive change. Allow children to pay for their own purchases at the checkout.
If children receive an allowance, have a reward system in place. Even preschoolers can accomplish simple tasks like picking up toys and making beds. Sit down as a family and place a monetary value on chores. Make a chart that lists names, chores and weekly allowance amounts. Discuss how an employee/employer relationship works. Most children appreciate being acknowledged and rewarded for following through on responsibilities. If the family budget is exceptionally strapped, be honest with children and discuss alternatives to receiving monetary allowances.
Open a Bank Account
Older children should be encouraged to open savings accounts. Depositing birthday and holiday money into a bank account is an excellent learning experience for children. Most bank associates are more than willing to explain types of accounts, interest rates, deposits and withdrawals with children. Whether your child opts for an online statement or monthly hardcopy, sit down and explain how to read and understand the account entries.
Teach Check Writing Skills
Even in this day of online bill pay, check writing is still a necessary skill. Point out the basic parts of a check and explain what information goes where. Have children draw a mock check, complete with check number, payee name, amount, date and memo. Describe the process of where the check goes after it’s mailed to an individual or company and what happens if there are insufficient funds to cover the check. Explain how to read and enter the necessary information into the check ledger and why it’s so important to keep it updated and accurate.
Involve Children in Garage and Online Sales
Involve children in ways to make extra money. Have a family garage sale. Ask children to choose personal items to sell. Have them put a price on each item. Have children help work the sale, negotiate prices, take money and make change. Sell items through online auctions. Children can list items, track bidding and help finalize sales.
Open communication between family members is important especially during difficult financial times. Teaching children about money, bills, finances and the economy early helps ensure they are better equipped to understand how to handle money later on in life. It’s never too early to start teaching children financial skills.