Nine smart ways to teach your kids financial responsibility

It’s never too early to introduce or reinforce positive financial habits for your kids. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a mix of simple concepts and activities you can try to set them up for a life of smart money management:

1. Create a budget
Begin your financial education with the basics. Show your older children how to manage their income (whether it’s an allowance or a paycheck) by designating different portions for savings and spending, creating categories for different types of spending (e.g., entertainment, eating out, etc.), and suggesting limits for those categories.

2. Teach them to ‘Pay Yourself First’
Pay Yourself First is a financial concept based on the idea that, every time you receive income, you immediately put some towards your necessary costs. Your children don’t have bills, but they should treat contributing to their savings as necessary. Pay Yourself First will remind them to always save money before spending it.

3. Start a savings match
To illustrate the idea of a retirement account with an employer match, you can match a portion of their savings. For example, for every dollar your child saves, you contribute a quarter. They’ll surely appreciate the way their money grows in savings.

4. Shop together
Incorporate your kids in the shopping process. Supermarkets are a good place to start. From making a list of items to comparing costs on similar products and finding coupons, involving them will highlight the financial aspects of buying food.

5. Plan a field trip to your financial institution
A trip to your financial institution may be very illuminating for your children. Point out the staff, show them the ATMs, and open an account for them. Having their own account gives them direct experience with money.

6. Let them spend their own money
It’s important to let your younger kids spend their own money. You can make suggestions, but try to avoid setting strict rules about what they can and can’t buy. After all, the best way to learn something is through real-world experience.

7. Let them make mistakes
It might be hard to watch your children make unwise spending decisions, but mistakes can provide valuable lessons. So if they blow their whole allowance on comic books and don’t have anything left to go to the movies, they’ll likely understand how to make a different choice with their money next time.

8. Show them different ways to pay
Once your kids start to understand how money works, explain the different ways to make purchases. Discuss credit cards, checks, and digital payment methods like online transfers and Apple Pay.

9. Consider giving them ‘Authorized User’ status
If you’re comfortable with it and your children can handle the responsibility, consider making your older kids Authorized Users on your credit card. They’ll be able to use it for purchases just like you can. Just remember to explain that they must pay off their charges in full every month.

This article was written by our financial partner, Balance. 

Contact our financial advisor, Barry Wind, for free financial planning.

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