Financial Education Begins at Home
If, like many parents, you’ve found yourself spending much more time at home with family for the past several months, you’ve probably also found valuable opportunities to spend more time engaging in teachable moments with your children. Among the myriad of subjects you may find yourself discussing with your kids, consider sharing the basics of personal finance with them – after all, we’re sure you’ll agree it’s really never too early to begin practicing good money managing habits. Talking with your children about this subject will not only help them understand the value of a dollar now, but hopefully help them establish behavioral patterns that will put them on the right track for financial success in the future, and for the rest of their lives. Here are some tips to help you get the conversation started …
Demonstrate the Value of Money
Interestingly enough, the teaching of financial skills is not a significant part of the typical school curriculum, despite how critical such skills are to future success in life – making it all the more important for you to demonstrate the value of money to your kids while you have extra time at home. And of course, your children’s financial education goes beyond verbal instruction. They will never fully be able to understand what financial success looks like if it is not consistently demonstrated to them first-hand. Setting a good example by establishing principles and habits such as budgeting, saving and planning charitable giving can help you teach your family how to spend wisely, shaping their future attitudes toward responsible money management.
Depending on your children’s age(s), consider also engaging in conversations with them explaining in more detail financial decisions you have personally chosen to make for the sake of the family. For example, if you have just purchased new kitchen appliances, explain why and how you were able to make this investment. These kinds of personally relevant, real-life examples should make an even greater impact toward your child’s understanding.
Of course, the internet can be a perfect resource for teaching your family financial lessons at home. And while many of these digital tools are free, many parents still wonder where they can find age-appropriate and reliable resources online. Apps such as Peter Pig’s Money Counter and Piggy Bot on your mobile devices to make financial lessons fun. In addition, websites like Kid’s Finance and US MINT are great parent resources if you are looking for online money games, or are constructing your own activities/lesson plans.
Engage in Activities
Board games such as “Monopoly” and “The Game of Life” aren’t just fun activities – they can also provide effective lessons on how money, and life in general, work. (Another plus side to these kinds of games: If your kid ends up broke and in jail in a game of “Monopoly,” at least no permanent harm will have been done!)
Incorporating other activities like craft projects can also be a great way to engage your family in financial learning. Here’s one to try: Decorate three jars, labeling each one separately with the words “Saving,” “Spending” or “Sharing.” Every time your child receives money – whether for doing chores, or from a birthday, etc. – work together to divide the money equally among the jars. Find more fun activities like this from a simple and quick online search to inspire your next fun financial lesson!
Help Your Kids Open a Checking Account
We all remember the bank we opened our first checking account with. Opening a checking account and making your first deposit is a momentous first step in one’s financial journey. And as a parent, those moments provide a great opportunity to share financial wisdom with your child. Remember the jar activity mentioned earlier? You can turn that exercise into reality by opening a joint account as co-owner with your child when they grow older, and let them experience using their coin counter as their first form of deposit. Teaching them basics like making check deposits, avoiding overdraft fees, and the differences between a checking and savings account are all great ways to enlighten your family on the advantages of personal banking. And while you’re visiting the bank branch, coaching and encouraging your child to interact and converse with banking staff is a great way to empower them with social skills for future scenarios.
As your kids continue to grow older, the sooner they realize that money will not magically appear in their accounts, the better. So, if they are of the right age, and their current schedule and situation allow, encourage your teens to get jobs and begin earning their own income. There is nothing quite like receiving your first pay check! Watching and managing their own hard-earned money can lead them into healthy financial practices such as saving long-term, and healthy shopping habits. You might even consider being vulnerable enough to share some of your own past money mistakes, and teach your kids what to avoid based on your personal experiences.
Whatever your family structure and dynamic looks like during these unprecedented times, we hope that this article has helped spark ideas regarding how you can begin empowering your young ones to live out a successful and balanced financial future. At Sunflower Bank, we are here to help realize those goals for you and your family.