Anyone who lives on a farm knows that there is always work to be done. Feeding and watering livestock, working in the garden, gathering eggs, cleaning out the chicken coop, pulling weeds, etc… This was my childhood. During those formative years, I didn’t comprehend the valuable life lessons that I was being taught. Now, over 50 years later, I do. I was one of the lucky ones. I grew up in a home where my parents taught me valuable lessons at a young age. I was taught the value of hard work, honesty, respect my elders, honor God and country, live a frugal lifestyle, do not try to keep up with the ‘Jones’ and many, many more valuable lessons… too numerous to list in this single post. Looking back, I am so thankful and blessed to have had the parents and upbringing that I had.
In today’s post, we are highlighting several basic and priceless money lessons that my parents taught me. In turn, I have tried to instill them in my own children, and now in my grandchildren.
1) IT STARTS WITH YOU
The very first step is to realize that YOU are your child’s main teacher. Your children watch you. They are like little sponges that soak up everything; even when you think they are not paying attention. They mirror and reflect what you do. If you have a blase, or indifferent, attitude toward your finances, then chances are your children will have a “devil-may-care” attitude towards their finances too.
You need to be honest with yourself. When you look in the mirror, do you see someone who uses wisdom when it comes to your own personal finances? Do you live paycheck to paycheck? Do you have a savings account and/or a cushion for emergencies? Do you have large amounts of debit and outstanding credit card bills? Do you pay your bills on time, all of the time? Do you plan and save-up for those items that are a ‘want’ and not a ‘need’ or do you go into debit for frivolous things? Do you tithe? Whatever your attitude is towards money; it will more than likely be the attitude that your children hold as well.
2) CHILDREN MUST BE INVESTED
One of the key ways to help children realize the value of money is to give them hands-on-interaction with money at a young age. Start by giving your child age appropriate task around the house. Some task should be performed simply because they are part of the family, however, try to create a few ‘extra task’ where they can earn money. Let them earn it, spend it, donate it, save it and invest it. When children have their own ‘blood, sweat and tears’ involved, they have a better understanding of what it takes to make money. It also helps them understand the value of working hard and they usually think twice before spending their own hard-earned cash. Invest in a piggy bank with divided slots for saving, spending, donating: Money Savvy Pig – Blue or Moonjar Classic Moneybox: Save, Spend, Share
There is balance in everything, however, there is truly something ‘magical’ about giving to others. It’s an act of selflessness and it’s an act of obedience to God’s Word. Whether you believe in tithing or not, the act of giving helps a child to realize that the world doesn’t revolve around them. It also helps a child develop compassion for others less fortunate. Never underestimate the power of giving to others.
Here is a children’s book called Three Cups which is the story of one family’s unique and effective method of teaching personal financial management—and how one boy reaped first the small, then the immeasurably great rewards of the lessons he learned.
The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money is another excellent book for children.
4) NEEDS VS WANTS
It’s easy for us to get caught-up in this world of instant gratification and teaching our children to wait can be tough. However, it is imperative that we teach our children the difference between an actual ‘need’ verses a ‘want’. Big difference between the two. As parents, it’s our job to teach our children the word “No.” If you always hand over money to your child for every little whim that they have, then you are not teaching them how to be patient and wait. Help your children plan for what they need and/or want. Help them figure out how much they need to save before they can buy that item they want so badly. Place cash in a clear jar so they can actually see their money stash grow over time. In the end, they may decide that they really do not want that item after all, and if they do purchase it, chances are they will take much better care of it.
5) MULTIPLY SAVINGS
Open a savings account for your child at a local bank. By having their own savings account you are teaching your child important money management elements. These concepts underlie any type of investment decision’s they will be making throughout life.
- How to make deposits and withdrawals and that a bank is where money is kept. You can show your child deposit and withdrawal slips used for these transactions and how to fill them in.
- Interest – income earned on your money. When a deposit is made in a bank, you essentially are giving the bank the use of your money. In today’s world, the interest on a small savings account is minuscule, however you are teaching the concept of your money growing through investments.
- Safety – by placing their money in a bank, their investment is safe.
- Liquidity -your child can take the money out of their savings account at any time, and there are no penalties for doing so.
Take advantage of technology. The Internet is full of age-specific money games for children that make learning about money fun and exciting.
- PNC Bank and Sesame Street teamed up to create fun videos and games that teach kids about money. Children can learn about money from Elmo and his friends: For Me, For You, For Later
- Investment management firm T. Rowe Price game: The Great Piggy Bank Adventure
- MassMutual, a financial advisory group, developed Save! The Game, an app for the iPad and iPhone that teaches kids the difference between wants and needs.
- Don’t discount board games such as The Game of Life and Monopoly
If you instill basic money principles into your children while they are young, those sound money principles will help them to make wise financial decisions for the rest of their life. It’s never too early to start.