We all strive as parents to help our kids set healthy habits. Managing money is a helpful skill they can benefit from for the rest of their lives. Kids who develop good money management skills from an early age are more likely to be ready to face financial challenges as adults.
As parents, we can all play an important role in helping our children understand money and set good habits when it comes to finances.
It’s important to understand what level they are at and find teachable moments, or set realistic goals that your children can relate to.
As a husband and wife Finance and Mortgage Broking team, we have the same conversations about money over our kitchen table as anyone else.
There’s a pretty large age gap between our two kids. Our youngest, Marcus is almost 3 years old, our eldest Eva is turning 16 this year. They each need different approaches to helping them learn about money.
Here are 3 key messages worth sharing with kids about money for each stage they’re at:
Numbers are fun
A good understanding of numbers will help kids to make smart decisions on how to save, invest and spend their money in the future. Toddlers and pre-schoolers can be introduced to numbers through:
- Playing games like hopscotch and singing songs with numbers and counting.
- Counting ingredients when helping to cook, counting toys or shoes.
Healthy money behaviour is normal
Parents role-modelling healthy money behaviour positively influences children’s beliefs and values around money.
The way parents talk about money, their spending habits, and general approach to finances are noticed by children, even when they are very young.
Giving kids pocket money at around 4-5 years of age helps them learn about the value of money, the relative price of things, and saving. Saving up for something teaches kids that sometimes we need to wait for the things we want.
Money boxes help pre-schoolers learn how to count money, and they can physically see their savings grow.
Maths can be enjoyable
- Make maths fun by playing board games involving calculations like Monopoly.
- Teach children about numbers used in sports such as scores, batting averages and percentages of wins.
- Read books with mathematical themes, our family’s favourite is Benny’s Pennies by Pat Brisson
Need vs. Wants
Understanding needs versus wants is key to being able to live within your means.
Explain to kids that needs are things you need to live, things like food and water; while a want is something you would like to have, but it’s not essential for survival, like chocolate and the latest smartphone.
Saving is a great idea
Encourage kids to set savings goals. This gives them an opportunity to practice making financial decisions, they get to decide how much of their pocket money they save and spend.
Cash is king
Encourage teens to use cash to make purchases rather than paying with a key-card. Using cash is a tactile and visual experience. When teens pay with plastic they are using ‘invisible money’ which is an abstract concept that doesn’t feel as real as cash.
Provide teens with an opportunity to learn how to budget. We suggest increasing your teen’s pocket money and increasing the expenses they are responsible for. This helps them build on the money management skills they developed in primary school.
Spotting a good deal
Strong maths skills will better equip teens to make sound financial decisions as adults. For example, if they understand percentages they can tell if an item on sale is offering a good saving.
Encourage your teen to explore how interest works. Discuss the pros and cons of borrowing money to purchase a car, including how paying interest will affect their monthly repayments, and factoring repayments into their budget to ensure they are manageable.
Carl & Jo