Money management is an essential life skill for everybody. Kids of all ages can and should learn about it. Here are some ideas, inspired by finance expert Dave Ramsey, for you and your family to get started on this very important journey!
For preschoolers and kindergarteners:
- Use a clear jar to store savings. While a piggy bank is certainly fun, using a clear jar provides a better visual for young children to see their savings. Whenever they put in an extra coin or dollar bill, they can actually see how their savings are growing and feel accomplished about it! Because old habits die hard, making saving money a habit at this young age will help children continue to do the same as they grow up.
- Show them that buying stuff costs money. When your child wants to get something from the store, take money out from the savings jar so they see the savings decrease, bring it to the store, and have them watch you physically hand the money over to the cashier (or put it into a self-checkout machine). This real-life demonstration of things actually costing money will help cement that fact into your child’s mind.
For elementary and middle school kids:
- Give them commissions instead of allowances. Pay your kids for doing chores, not for doing nothing! Giving commissions will teach them the important lesson that money is not free—it must be earned.
- Teach them to avoid impulse purchases. When your child sees something they really want, NOW, tell them to wait at least until the next day to buy it with their own commission money. Allowing time to reflect on purchases and on whether or not they really want to spend their hard-earned “wages” on something will help them develop a habit of avoiding impulse buying.
- Help them compare prices. If something your child wants to buy is sold by several retailers, help them look at the prices of the item at each vendor and compare them. By doing this, your kids will learn that the first place they see something isn’t necessarily the most affordable. This will help them take the time to seek better deals on purchases in the future.
- Encourage giving. God loves a cheerful giver—whether the giver is putting some of their own money in the offering plate at church or donating to a charity whose cause they are passionate about. Teach your child that since God has blessed them with what they have, the least they can do is give back and bless others that way!
For high school kids:
- Get them to start saving for college. Higher education is expensive! As a high school senior looking at colleges to attend next fall, I have been disturbed and sometimes downright appalled at the costs of college. Help your teen open a bank account dedicated to saving for college to take the edge off the costs of higher education. Also, encourage them to apply for scholarships to further mitigate college-related expenses.
- Have them start budgeting. As your teen gains more independence, it may be hard for them to remember to spend their money wisely. What if they spend too much while eating out or hanging out with friends at the mall? Creating a personal budget and sticking to it will help your teen allocate their funds into specific categories and regulate their spending.
- Have them keep a spending diary. To keep a spending diary, all your teen has to do is write down how much they spent every day and on what items. This will be very helpful for them to keep track of their spending habits. Upon reviewing their spending diary, they will be able to evaluate whether they are spending too much in one area and adjust accordingly.
- Teach them about credit cards. While there are some advantages to credit cards, it’s not all fun and games—there are significant risks associated with using credit cards that your teen should be aware of. Make sure they understand them so that they make wise decisions about this in the future.
As you can see, your children can learn about good financial practices at all ages. From preschool to high school, kids can implement these habits into their own lives and prepare themselves for a financially secure future.
Some ideas in this blog post are taken from https://www.ramseysolutions.com/relationships/how-to-teach-kids-about-money.