Teach Your Children About Money Management

March 2023 ISSUE March 1, 2023
Personal Finances Budgeting, Spending, Saving
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Putting your children to work is a good first step. Unfortunately, they’ll likely receive scant information on how to manage their money as part of their formal education. So, take the lead on educating them about personal finances to help them avoid costly mistakes.

It’s never too early to start teaching your children about money. Even a 3-year-old can understand that if you buy them this toy, you can’t also buy them that treat. Ensuring financial literacy and reinforcing smart habits will pay dividends throughout their lives.

Talk About Money Early And Often

While you may have been raised in a family that never discussed finances, that needs to change. Being willing to discuss money matters gives you the opportunity to be their financial role model. Having open conversations about managing money can encourage your children to adopt smart habits early on in life—like saving regularly or researching products before making expensive buying decisions. After all, children learn by example. Bringing them into family conversations around finances is an effective way to foster dialogue around topics like bank statements and budgeting decisions. Hearing such conversations among adults will normalize money management, leaving them better prepared when it’s time to handle their own finances.

Let Them Earn It

You’ve likely earned financial success not because of what was given to you, but through study and hard work. Teach your children the importance of a strong work ethic. One option is to forgo an allowance and pay them for age appropriate household chores. If you do opt for a regular allowance, make it contingent on the completion of certain tasks each week. Furthermore, begin employing them in your practice at age 6.

Gifting ownership interests in the family limited partnership/LLC that owns your office building and/or other investments can not only help fund educational costs, but can also provide your children with a great education. Having tax-deductible annual meetings (vacations) provides a forum to discuss current and proposed investments and answer questions from all family members/partners.

Help Them Open A Bank Account

A great way to start teaching your children is by helping them open their own bank account (checking or savings). This provides an excellent opportunity to discuss what banking means in terms of deposits, withdrawals, interest rates, etc., as well as to illustrate how online banking works and why banks are used today.

Help Them Save It

An old-fashioned piggy bank can help teach them the power of patience when it comes to building wealth over time. Start as early as possible by showing them that money can have different destinations—for instance, some is for saving, some is for spending, and some is for giving.

Teach them the importance of setting aside a portion of their earnings from any kind of work or allowance payments for future expenses. This teaches them basic budgeting skills. As they get older, encourage them to create specific savings goals for things like a car, college tuition, or long-term investments.

Let Them Spend Some Of It

Nothing teaches children the value of a dollar better than spending their own money and seeing how much (or little) it buys. They need to understand purchasing decisions are a tradeoff. One way to demonstrate this lesson is to give your young child (roughly 5-8 years old) $5 to spend. (Make it clear this is a special treat, not a regular event!) Let them decide how to spend it.

Ramp this strategy up for your children in college, graduate, or professional school. Develop a mutually agreed upon budget with your college-age child for their personal living expenses, as well as college education costs, including tuition, fees, room and board, etc. Put the agreed upon amount into their personal checking account monthly and give them the responsibility of paying their bills. Use the same approach for wedding expenses.

Help Them Give Wisely

Teach them the joy of giving! Foster generosity by explaining the importance of giving to others less fortunate. The concept of tithing (giving 10% of income) may be helpful here. Talk to them about your own favorite charities and ask them to come up with a list of organizations they’d like to support. Offer to match their charitable gifts to show your support of their efforts.

Be sure to warn them that there are a lot of scammers out there and encourage them to do their research first. Sites such as charitynavigator.org can help them identify the charities that will be the best stewards of their money.

It’s Never Too Late

If you haven’t been cultivating financial literacy in your children, don’t worry. It’s never too late to start. But the important lesson is—you have to start!

Get more ideas: Want to learn more? The Money as You Grow guide from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provides an array of tips and suggestions for discussing money matters with your children. Other good personal financial resources: The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley; Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.

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