facebook twitter instagram linkedin google youtube vimeo tumblr yelp rss email podcast phone blog search brokercheck brokercheck Play Pause
Teaching Children Financial Literacy Thumbnail

Teaching Children Financial Literacy

My oldest son is five years old. The other day when he was playing with his Smashers super rare glow in the dark cool caveman, he couldn't remember why, but he remembered it was special. I reminded him that he had two, we could sell one on Ebay for over $100, and then buy more toys.

He didn't totally comprehend what I was saying, but he liked the idea of getting more toys. He lost interest in the topic and we didn't pursue it further. I asked him later in the day if he'd like to move to an allowance and he smiled and said no and to just buy him more toys. He's not quite ready to begin his financial education, but he's getting closer, and I'll keep checking in with him along the way.

Below, we share some of our general advice on how to move your kids up the financial education learning curve. In "Beginners," by Tom Vanderbilt,  the author talks about how steep learnings curves are misunderstood. Usually, when someone says learnings curves are steep is to put you off from trying, "oh, it's a steep learning curve, it's going to be hard!". But as Mr. Vanderbilt points out, the flip side is that a steep learning curve means you can make a lot of progress quickly. We think financial education is like that. You can go from knowing next to nothing to fluency pretty quickly.

For many parents, the idea of having the "money talk" with their kids is a terrifying thought. The biggest reason parents avoid the topic is they don't believe they know enough about money themselves and fear they will give their children the wrong information.

Although discussing the topic of money with your kids can be uncomfortable, it is a necessary step in their development. Few schools teach courses on how to handle money the right way. Without learning money management skills at home, your kids are going to be in for a few nasty surprises when they get older. 

Are you worried about your children's money skills? Start with the following four tips for teaching financial literacy to your kids. 

1. Let Kids Experiment

One effective way to help kids learn how to make budgets is to give them the chance to make mistakes on their own. A small allowance each week is the perfect incentive for children to learn how to budget. Do they want to blow this week's money on candy and a cheap toy, or save up a few weeks to get something they really want? Of course, some children will still be impulsive and want to spend their funds right away, but better they learn to make mistakes with $10 than $10,000.

2. Include Children in Household Budgeting

Do you have a shopping or entertainment budget each month? Try including an older child on budget planning for the next month. Kids learn quickly when they have to stay home bored for two weeks because they blew the entertainment fund during the first half of the month. Another great idea is to set a grocery budget for an upcoming trip, make your week's list, and then take your child to the grocery store with you. As you place items in your cart, have your child add up the cost of each item until you hit your limit. This is another great exercise in making choices based on limited funds. 

3. Gameify It

Turn budgeting and saving money into a game. Give your shopping lists to your younger kids and let them search online or in the newspaper for coupons and sales. Maybe you could promise to put a percentage of the money they save into a bank account for them to purchase something special down the road. You could even encourage older children to learn lifelong investment skills by participating in a stock trading simulator such as The Stock Market Game.

4. Make Them Earn It

Knowing how to save, invest, and spend money is important, but one of the best things you can do for your children is to instill a good work ethic in them by letting them earn money on their own. Whether your teen works part-time at the movie theater, or you help your little ones start a lemonade stand, the willingness to work hard and be rewarded is one of the best financial lessons you can pass on to them. 

These tips are only the start. Use the opportunity of teaching your kids about financial literacy to learn more about it yourself!

When you are ready for the intermediate level of financial literacy, check out our podcast on custodial Roth IRA's. Your whole family is bound to learn something. 

This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Twenty Over Ten. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.