Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by PSECU, a Pennsylvania-based credit union.
Recent research shows kids begin forming their attitudes about money at younger ages than many would expect. While economics class may not occur on their syllabus until high school, most children establish their basic financial habits before leaving the elementary grades. With so much on the line, what can you do to ensure little ones develop positive economic habits?
Quite a lot. By starting with the old fashioned piggy bank and going from there with the use of apps and other technology, you can help your children develop sound money management techniques they will use for a lifetime. Here’s how.
1. The Value of a Piggy Bank
Before your child forms their first “mama,” get them a piggy bank. They work because they provide a tangible feel that allows kids to have a tactile sense of how their money accumulates.
Like in the adult world, avoid using money as bribes, but do use it as an incentive. As your kids become toddlers, offer to pay them to pick up their own toys, for example. This begins instilling a work ethic in them while watching their piggy bank grow closer to the bursting point.
2. Teaching How Things Cost Money
Teaching children how to spend money responsibly and budget is an important part of solid financial management. Begin by giving them a nominal sum of $1-5 when you go to the grocery store. Allow them to spend it on whatever they like, but reinforce when it is gone, it is gone. Then, turn it into a teachable moment by discussing what they would wish they had purchased instead and how they can budget differently next time you go.
3. Managing Their Own Spending
By the time your child is between the ages of 9-11, they should have a custodial savings account, and you can use this as a starting point to begin teaching them to balance a checkbook. It’s time to up the grocery game, too, by giving your child a calculator and the amount you have to spend, and having them help you make sure you do not go over budget. Have them download a smartphone app like Spending Spree to further their money savvy.
4. Opening Bank Accounts
Yes, your child has a custodial account, but by the time they reach their pre-teens, they’re ready to have their own bank accounts. Even though they cannot open one on their own until they turn 18, you can cosign a joint account for them. Take them with you when you open it so they grow familiar with the process, or, if you apply online, let them complete the application under your supervision.
Allowing them to have their own debit card can start teaching them to use plastic responsibly. Since the account is joint, you can link their card only to their checking and monitor their spending. Use these as discussion points to talk about whether they’re happy with how they manage their spending and how they can improve.
5. Getting Started With Investing
The sooner your children get over their fear of the stock market, the better. Historically, stocks have outperformed other savings and investment vehicles in terms of keeping pace with rising costs of living. If you’ve started an investment account for them, you can share this with your child when they’re in their teens. Explain the strategies you used to do things like save for their college education through wise investing.
Learn how to play the stock market game and compete with your teens. Help them cut their milk teeth, so to speak, with virtual investing before moving on to making actual financial moves on their own. By the time they turn 18, they’ll be economically intelligent enough to invest and save for a first home, start a business or even travel through Europe for a year post-graduation.
Teaching Your Kids Smart Money Moves Begins Early
Children’s lifelong financial habits begin before they enter kindergarten. By teaching your kids savvy money habits early using the tips above, your young ones will reach adulthood ready to take control of their economic futures.