You can talk about money all day long (or ignore it as many parents do) but the best way for kids to learn how to manage money is by doing it.
Cathie Sherer, manager of our Dave Lyle Boulevard branch, says her girls have learned a lot about money through Girl Scout cookie sales and by raising pigs for a 4-H project.
“My girls quickly learned where to buy the least expensive hog feed,” Cathie said of Madison, 14, and Abigail, 10. “They also learned it takes work – and marketing – to sell even the best cookies.”
Talking about money doesn’t mean discussing your paycheck, financial experts say, but rather exploring the difference between wants and needs and not spending more than you have. Start early and talk often; once you get the hang of it, you’ll find it’s easy to involve children in family activities.
Try the grocery store: give them a dollar amount to spend on their favorite snack and ask them to decide what to buy. Sweeten the deal by letting them pocket whatever they save. For example: the snack limit is $4 and they find cookies for $2.69; they pocket the $1.31 saved – unless you want to teach them about sales tax, too.
One idea is to set up three jars and label them saving, spending and sharing. Next time Junior gets birthday money, ask him to put a third in each jar.
Better yet, open an Explorer’s Club savings account at Family Trust. Not only can your child save birthday money there, but we give Explorer Club members ages 8-12 at least $1 and sometimes $2 for every A or equivalent on their report card. Children age 7 and under get $5 on their birthday.
Here are a few other ideas:
• Teach older kids about compound interest
• Compare college prices together. College Scorecard is a great place to start
• Let them earn money by doing chores
• Match what they save
• Create a savings goal chart
• Let them help plan the family vacation
• Let them make mistakes and discuss what they learned
Cathie says selling Girl Scout cookies and raising the pig strengthened her daughters’ math skills and taught them about setting goals and working as a team.
“Our conversations about money really changed when they were making the decisions about spending and earning,” she said. “Discussions about cars and college should be much easier now. We’re ready.”