Money can be a sensitive topic, am I right?!
But, it doesn’t always have to be, especially when it comes to guiding and teaching our children. While I don’t think it’s necessary to divulge every detail of our finances to our kids, I do think there is value in including our children in open and honest conversations about money. I believe we can be our children’s greatest financial influences. That said, I am not a financial expert. I’m just a Mom trying to do my best to educate my kids.
Research has shown that children as young as three can grasp financial concepts such as saving and spending. So, now that my oldest is four I’ve started to introduce him to basic money principles. Rather than sit him down with a spreadsheet and a calculator, I’ve chosen to weave teachable moments into our day to day activities as appropriate.
Here are a few different ways to expose younger children to money in a fun and engaging way.
I think the most important lesson we can instill in our youngest, is simply not to put money in their mouths! However, new research shows a correlation between math skills and financial literacy, so it’s never too early to practice basic math skills like counting and sorting.
There are endless games that can teach young children about money. Consider setting up a play store or restaurant at home, and include paying the bill as part of the game. Another idea is to learn about different coins, and begin saving them in a jar or piggy bank. My son has a digital piggy bank that he loves. He gets a kick out of seeing the numbers on the display change with each coin he deposits. This is also a great age to introduce the idea that we can’t always get what we want immediately, and sometimes we have to wait and save our money for a new toy.
As children grow older and begin to earn an allowance it’s a good opportunity to include them in banking related tasks. Bring them on a trip to the bank to open their own account and deposit their own money. Set up three jars at home for saving, spending, and sharing. Let your child help make decisions about how much to spend, save, and with which organizations to share their money.
But, I don’t want my kids to worry about money.
As parents, the last thing we want to do is cause stress or worry by talking about money with our children. So, how should we walk the line between educating them and causing worry? Experts suggest being honest with your children, but to only share the details they need to know. Kids will eventually pick up information about money, so it’s important to get your message out early.