Kids and Money: Seven Tips

As community bankers we frequently visit classrooms to talk about banking and money management.

For the little kids we focus on the difference between needs and wants and on the importance of saving money. For the teens we talk about more complex topics like how banks and credit works. We talk to them about what happens when you borrow money, why everyone needs a checking account and what credit scores mean.

We do this because we believe financial education is important and we are happy to provide this service to youngsters and young adults in our communities. However, we hope that parents will spend some time educating their kids about these topics as well. Here are seven tips to get you started.

Teach them about saving. Whether it’s a piggy bank, a clear glass jar or a passbook savings account, teach your kids to save money and to be excited about seeing it grow. Talk to them about how saving money means they’ll have funds for something they really want or need in the future.

Talk about the difference between needs and wants.   This is a lesson that a lot of adults could use as well. In talking to third graders with our Teach Kids To Save program, we find that they have an excellent grasp on what they need and what they want. They need a pair of shoes. They want the kind that light up when they walk. By the time they’re in high school, we find it’s often harder to get them to admit they don’t need the latest iPhone.

Talk about the cost of things. As you’re grocery shopping or making decisions about purchases, initiate a conversation about why you are buying the off brand canned goods or how buying in bulk saves money in the long run. Help them understand that even the small purchases call for decision making.

Give them a chance to earn money – Whether to give allowance or pay for chores is a personal decision each family must make. We will say that there is wisdom in providing kids with the opportunity to manage money they had to earn. Modest pay for chores or allowance gives them the chance to learn about responsible spending and saving. If you have teenagers, encourage them to take on a part time job or to do odd jobs in the neighborhood.

Help them open a Student Checking Account. They will need one eventually and learning to manage an account now will help them later in life. Click here to learn more about how Student Checking at VCNB works.

Discuss Debt. This is a good subject for everyone but especially for teens who have their eye on car ownership. Talk to them about things they might need to borrow money for – like a car, college education and house – and about saving money for a down payment. Also talk about how to manage a credit card responsibly and why they should avoid charging more than they can pay off in a month.

Talk savings. Teach them about the three most important kinds of savings for adults: personal, emergency and retirement. While retirement savings may not seem like a priority to a teenager, it will be important in a few years once they’re starting out in their career.

Your kids are going to learn about money from someone. Wouldn’t it be better coming from you?

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