How soon is too soon to talk to your kids or grandkids about money?
If they are old enough to ask for a toy or a bike, they are old enough to start learning financial lessons that will last a lifetime.
The best financial lessons are part of the everyday experience. Look for opportunities to talk about money, read books aloud, and play games that center around spending money wisely. Be open and honest when you discuss your financial experiences—good or bad.
Here are some examples of teachable moments to help you get started:
At the Bank
When you go to the bank, take your children with you and show them how transactions work. Get the manager to explain how the bank operates, how money generates interest, and how an ATM works.
Discuss how your paycheck is budgeted to pay for housing, food and clothing, and how a portion is saved for future expenses such as college tuition and retirement.
At the Market
It’s easy to give clear examples of “needs” and “wants” using different kinds of foods at a grocery store. Milk (for strong bones) is a need; soft drinks are a want. Explain the benefits of comparison shopping, coupons, and store brands.
Chores and Allowances
Assign chores and give them a monetary value. Discuss ways to budget and divide allowances. Encourage children to set a financial goal, such as saving for a bike, and figure out how to achieve it.
Explain the many ways bills can be paid: over the phone, by debit or credit card, or by paper check, electronic check, or online check draft. Discuss how each method of bill pay takes money out of your account (with the exception of credit cards, of course). Be sure to cover late penalties, emphasizing the importance of paying bills on time.
Using Credit Cards
Explain that credit cards are a loan and need to be repaid. Share how each month a credit card statement comes in the mail with a bill. Go over the features of different types of cards, such as ATM, debit, and credit cards.
Browsing the Internet
While online, explain to your children how valuable their personal information and privacy is to you, to them, and to online predators. Discuss the risks and benefits of sharing certain information. Then, as a family, make a list of rules for keeping personal information safe.
Planning a vacation
Whether you are planning an outing to a local amusement park or a once-in-a-lifetime trip, emphasize the value of saving as a family. Set a family savings goal that involves your children. Figure out the cost and discuss ways everyone can help to reach the goal.
Always encourage your children to ask questions about money. If you don’t know the answer, research it together or ask your banker.