Have you ever sat across from your spouse, with all of your bills and financial obligations spread out across the table, wishing that you would have learned how to manage your money better as a kid? Teaching your children wise money management will benefit them now and in the future.
Money is all around us. We earn it and use it every day. It is a part of our life at every stage. Teaching our children while they are young to manage $5 will help them handle $50 when they are teenagers, and ultimately $500 and even $5,000 or more, when they are adults.
Instill a work ethic
Teaching kids how to earn their money will be a lifelong blessing. Start young with chores. Chores will teach them diligence, timeliness, thoroughness, and how to follow instructions. Chores prepare our children to live independently. Indulging our kids with an allowance based on something for nothing, will create feelings of entitlement and selfishness.
Working and helping at home evolves over time into getting a job outside of the house. As adults, we have many responsibilities and we continually have to prioritize to get things accomplished. What better place than home could there be, for a teenager to learn how to juggle a job along with school, home, and friends. Then when they leave home, a job will already be a part of their life.
Establish needs vs. wants
Every child wants the most trendy toys, the latest extreme recreational activities, the newest techno-devices, the most expensive make-up, or the brand name clothes. You are probably saying to yourself that every adult wants those things too. A fair assumption. A problem arises when you want those things, but can't afford them. Helping your child distinguish early between needs and wants, will help them make wise consumer purchases throughout life.
Set money goals
Sit down with your child and decide on short term and long term money goals. Things like going to the football game this weekend would be a short term goal. Saving up for a car when they are 16 years old is a long term goal. Be realistic and don't get discouraged. Share with them some things you have had to save up for, and give them ideas of how you did it. Having to wait for something that they want will instill a more grateful attitude in them.
When your child has a more steady income, show them how to make a budget, and balance their checking account. Instead of getting to the end of the week and not having enough money for gas, tracking their cash flow, in and out, will help them visualize where their money is going. Help them realize that when their money is gone, it is gone and the only way to make it stretch further is to budget it better next time. Suggest that they be prepared for some unexpected expenses as well.
Savings - bank it
Instead of a piggy bank that can be raided at the first sound of the ice cream truck, help them get a savings account at a bank. It requires a higher commitment level to put it in, and leave it there. Hold back the urge to bail out your child when their savings aren't enough for their desired purchase. Help them learn from their mistakes and save more next time.
Money management can elude us all at times. With a bit of luck, helping our children learn a good work ethic, the difference between needs and wants, and how to set goals, budget, and save their money will ensure that throughout life, they will be in charge of their money, instead of their money controlling them.