One of the most important life skills you can teach your children is how to manage their own money. The sooner children begin financial education, the greater the likelihood they'll avoid the mistakes many adults make today.
The average per week allowance for American children is $30, according to the American Institute of CPAs. If parents help their children save and manage this money wisely, these young consumers will be better prepared to navigate the increasingly complex financial world as they grow older.
Educating your kids about money matters isn't as hard as you might think. Here are some simple ways to start teaching your kids the value of money:
- Open a savings account in your child's name. Kids as young as five years old can begin to understand the idea of saving. It doesn't matter how much money is deposited—what matters is creating a regular savings habit. Take your kids to the credit union with you and let them take an active role in saving. They'll understand more than you think.
- Set goals with your kids. Having a reason to save makes kids want to save. Their goals don't have to be huge—for many kids, watching their money grow is a reward in itself.
- Consider your child's age and find appropriate ways to communicate. While it's important to start early, make sure activities or discussions are age appropriate. Younger children learn through books, online activities and simple saving, while older children can create budgets and manage allowances.
- Include older children in family financial planning meetings. Some parents feel uncomfortable talking about their budget or other money matters with their kids but letting them witness your habits before they are forced to make their own decisions gives kids a solid financial foundation.
- Show kids your money values through your actions. Forget "Do as I say, not as I do." Kids watch their parents and mimic their habits. If your money management habits are less than perfect, use this as an opportunity to educate yourself about financial matters, and then share what you learn with your kids.