As a parent, worrying about your finances every now and then is probably second nature, however, it is also something that you probably never want your child to experience. If you're hoping to instill financial wellness in your child at a young age, there are plenty of places for you to start. Consider the five tips below as you navigate raising your kids to be smart with their money.
Firstly, educating your kids on the topic of finances from a young age is crucial for them to understand its value in the future. The next time your little one picks up a toy they want in the store, be sure to explain to them how much the item costs, and then show them the physical amount of money they would need to purchase the item. Though it might not feel like this action has a significant impact, it's actually the perfect way to help even your preschooler with their understanding of finances. Beyond this, try having a see-through savings jar at home for your child to use when they earn money from the tooth fairy, or for their birthday. If you're cautious about using real money at home due to its uncleanliness, invest in a toy money set for your child to use and save with, and then supplement the fake cash with your credit card the next time they want to make a purchase. There are plenty of other ways to teach your child about saving beyond using a jar, so research them. Take every opportunity to explain to your little one that items at the store do in fact have a price, but instead of lecturing them, always be sure to show them.
Make Money Meaningful
Apart from educating them on saving and costs in general, it's also good practice to show your children the meaning of money over time. For example, the next time your kindergartener grabs a bin of slime from the toy aisle, remind them that if they buy the slime now, they are foregoing another item they may want later on. Everything they choose to buy means they will be sacrificing something else. This conversation does not have to be a scolding one, but rather a simple reminder that will help them understand the impact of their decisions.
Another great way to make money meaningful without even having to lecture your child is by simply demonstrating its importance on your own. Avoid making impulse buys in front of your kids, or ever, as this will help you to lead by example, and will leave you with extra cash at the end of the day. If you are in a financial position to afford both what you need and want without financial strain, don't flaunt this in front of the kids. Be intentional when it comes to the way you discuss money because whether you worry about it, or not, your child is likely listening.
Enacting a plan to teach your child to be giving with what they have can go a long way. Whether you do this every holiday, bi-monthly, or once a year, try having your little one go through their toys on their own in order to determine what they no longer play with or need. As tempting as it is to go through their things yourself, it's vital you have them try it first. Have an open discussion about what toys other children might enjoy and why giving is an important act over-all. This process will teach your child to be content with what they already have, and will hopefully make them less likely to spend excessively in the future.
No matter what age, encouraging a helpful spirit in your child is a great way to teach them the value of hard work. From helping dry the dishes to having them walk with you to take out the trash, small chores, even if your elementary schooler is only really supervising them, should be rewarded. If a chore chart is a foreign concept to you, take some time to research chore charts online or have some fun developing your own. Use these charts to add stickers, simple checkmarks in order to keep track of the tasks your child has helped with throughout the week. The allowance you start them on doesn't have to be big, but having one in place is sure to teach them what it means to save, and in turn, what it means to spend.
Outline the Future
Outlining your child's future is something you'll have to tackle on your own for the most part, however, it's a great way to set an example for them in the long run. If you prioritize setting aside some money for their education, or even their future small business aspirations, your child is sure to appreciate and value these efforts over time. But if you know you don't have the means to save up for these big-ticket opportunities right now, have a plan of action instead. Going through this process will allow you to educate yourself and your kids at a later date on how to be financially prepared for the future. Many parents don't have the funds to supplement all or even just some of a college education, but there are plenty of other loan options available for these circumstances. Take the time to research grants, scholarships, and even low-interest loans like home equity. It might feel a bit silly to be researching these items if your child is still at a young age, yet doing so should ease your financial anxiety, giving you the headspace to focus on parenting in the present.