Have you been thinking about talking to your children about money? Maybe you worry that you don't have the resources to help your child learn about money management. Or, you might be at a loss about how to get started.
Talking about money with children isn't easy. But, the life-long benefits of teaching them good money habits are well worth the effort. Children that grow up without the basic knowledge of personal finances may suffer the consequences later in life.
Good money habits can be taught from an early age. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Children need to learn five concepts regarding money: earning, spending, sharing, borrowing and saving. Personal experiences with these skills will provide them with practical knowledge for money management.
Even young children can understand the basic premise behind earning, spending and sharing money. Consider introducing older children to the practices of borrowing and saving once they are able to comfortably see situations from another person's point of view.
Children can easily learn about earning money through their own efforts by earning an allowance. You can pay an allowance after certain chores have been completed. Or, figure out what works best for your family.
Talk to your child about tracking their earnings over a period of time. This helps them have a clear understanding about the money that is going into their pockets (or savings account). Being able to track earnings is a crucial life skill.
How do your children spend their money? Do you let them buy whatever they want with their money, or do you control their spending?
Children need to learn lessons about spending at an early age. Of course, mistakes will be made. For example, they may buy a toy that isn't durable and regret the purchase. Consider this a learning opportunity.
Teach them about quality, availability and how to compare products before buying them. Explain to them that they may have enough money for a toy, but may not be able to afford the batteries.
Use special occasions to teach them about giving to the less fortunate. When they're buying holiday presents, suggest they allocate a percentage of their budget to charity. Or, sign them up for a community service project.
It is also important to talk to them about how the tax system works. Start small. Discuss what sales tax is and what the money goes toward in your community.
The concept of being able to borrow money and pay it off in the future at an added cost is an important lesson in this credit-fueled society.
When you loan your child money, be sure to collect it back once they are able to repay. If they need to buy a game or toy and don't have the money to pay for it, tell them that you'll advance the money as long as they have a payment plan in place. Consider charging them interest if they are old enough to understand the concept.
Saving for the future is an important concept you must teach your kids. They'll need to understand the concept of both saving for the short-term (a new PlayStation) versus saving for the long-term (college).
Help them set up both short-term and long-term savings goals. Explain to them how much they'll need to save each month, as well as how long it will take them to save the entire amount. Consider motivating them by matching their annual contributions.
Younger children will find it difficult to get excited to save for college, especially since it may seem so far away. Consider providing non-monetary rewards to encourage them. With praise and encouragement, they'll likely be more inclined to continue saving.
Many parents have strong opinions about money based on their own childhood experiences. Ensure your children have positive money experiences by teaching them important fiscal concepts from an early age. Be innovative about giving them life experiences that will allow them to practice these concepts on a daily basis.
Troy Martin is a shareholder at Cook Martin Poulson, a Utah Accounting Firm. He has a vast amount of experience in the following business sectors: medical, dental, manufacturing, retail, restaurants, construction, farming and ranching.