How (and Why) You Should Teach Your Kids about Personal Finance

It’s often lamented that “kids these days” don’t know the value of a dollar, nor do they know how to properly save. If you currently have children living at home, a strong foundation in personal finance is one of the most important lessons you could teach them, one that will affect them for the rest of their lives. Not sure how to go about teaching them how to properly manage their money? Read on to find out!

Basics of Budgeting

First things first: if your kid doesn’t know how to set up a budget and follow it, then the rest of the financial lessons below probably won’t be taken too seriously. Budgeting can be a dry activity, but using a system of stickers or rewards (depending on your child’s age) can encourage them to stay positive and follow through on their goals. All it takes is a simple chart of their income and outflow and some mechanism like personal finance software for tracking their progress toward their savings goals.

Savings Habits: Start Young

Speaking of savings, one of the biggest problems facing teenagers and twentysomethings today is debt. Whether it’s from taking out too many student loans or abusing the credit card privilege, venturing out into the “real world” with a massive load of debt on your shoulders makes life much more difficult. To teach your kid the true value of saving money, start with the classic: an allowance. Getting money in exchange for work is a basic, but crucial lesson for later in life. If money is tight, consider restricting their allowance to a few dollars per week, and maybe even offer a parental match for every dollar saved (similar to the 401(k) match some employers offer as an incentive for their employees to save for retirement). This way, they’ll approach saving as a fun activity that can eventually lead to a big purchase, rather than seeing it as a chore.

Coupon Clipping 101

Who says coupons are only for adults? Although coupon clippers are generally portrayed as stay-at-home moms, the whole family can get involved! Whether it’s surfing online for coupons at sites or browsing through stacks of newspapers for sweet deals, clipping coupons together as a family not only saves money when it comes time to shop, but it also encourages a frugal approach to shopping.

Encourage Entrepreneurial Spirit

Lemonade stands in summer, cookie and hot cocoa stands in winter. It seems simple enough; but why stop there? Kids have wild imaginations and what better way to harness that creativity than through a productive, entrepreneurial outlet? Whether it’s hosting an art show for family members and auctioning off their masterpieces, tutoring younger siblings or neighbors, cleaning yards/pools/houses/cars/etc., caring for animals (or, my personal favorite, setting up a balloon animal stand and selling creations at $1 each)…all of these are viable sources of income and teach kids to do more than wait for a job to appear; they have to go out and make their own opportunities.

Nip Impulse Purchases in the Bud

Kids and teenagers are notorious for exhibiting a lack of restraint when it comes to buying things they want (especially when it’s not their money). This bad habit, if left unchecked, could follow them into adulthood, spelling disaster for their finances. By teaching your kids the difference between “wants” and “needs” (as well as sticking to a budget, as mentioned previously), you could save them a lot of headache and debt later on.

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One thought on “How (and Why) You Should Teach Your Kids about Personal Finance

  1. It is hard but very important to teach the children about finance in small age. They can prevent financial problems in future with such learning.

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