Teaching Kids About Money
Teaching kids about money means a lot more than doing things like posing the old “Would you rather have a nickel or a dime?” question to a young child or making sure your pre-teen knows how to figure out how much of a discount 15% off is.
Teaching kids about money means taking advantage of teachable moments and being a good financial example yourself — or reforming if you aren’t. After all, kids base a lot more of what they soak in on what you do vs. what you tell them. If you’re still learning about personal finance matters yourself (and who isn’t), it can also mean having your kids learn right along with you.
Take advantage of the things that happen around you every day to help your kids learn about money. When you get the bills, sit down and pay them in front of your kids. Let them see you doing it, and if they want to help, show them how you double-check to make sure the bills are accurate. You could also show them how online banking works or how you fill out a check.
If you’re going forward with a mortgage refinance, go ahead and talk about the interest rate you’ll be getting and why you’re doing it over dinner. Talk about the pitfalls you might encounter too.
When your water heater bursts, talk about how glad you are that you set aside money in an appliance or emergency fund. (And if you haven’t done that, talk about how much less stressful things would have been if you had done so.
Ask for your kids’ suggestions on money-related matters. You could ask how they would make up a budget if it were up to them, or ask them to research different ways to pay for college. They might come up with some great ideas! (And they’ll love knowing that you value their opinion.)
Remember that kids are going to learn something about money no matter what you do. They may learn that it’s a stressful subject to be avoided, or they may learn that planning ahead with money is a great way to make life go a little smoother. It’s up to you. The sooner you start teaching kids about money, the more informed they’ll be.