As parents we all want to teach our kids the best habits possible to help them grow into happy and healthy adults, that includes nurturing financial health. Sometimes it can be hard to gauge exactly what financial concepts to teach our children at different ages. Here is a quick guide to help you start your kids on the right financial path for life at any age.
Ages 2 to 4: Start with the basics
Help your preschooler understand the differences between pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. Help them sort and count the coins. You can also start introducing them to the concept of purchasing items with money. This can be done during playtime by setting up a pretend store, or in the real world by letting your kids hand the cashier money or let them swipe your debit card.
Ages 5 to 8: Open a credit union account
Once your child is in elementary school they are ready to start learning about money management. You can teach your kids the basics of money management by giving them an allowance and an account at the credit union for them. This is also a great age to introduce the concept of dividing their money into buckets for spending and saving.
Ages 9 to 12: Set financial goals
As your child gets a little older you can start helping them set financial goals. If they want a new video game teach them how to set a goal to save for that purchase using the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting model. Meaning the goal should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time bound.
Ages 13 to 15: Give them a debit card
Once your child has mastered being able to spend and save responsibly you can consider giving them a debit card so they can begin to access money on their own. This is also a great age to encourage them to begin earning extra money outside of their allowance. They can mow lawns in the neighborhood, start a paper route, or start babysitting to earn additional funds. This is introducing them to the concept of working means income.
Ages 16 to 18: Long term goal setting
By the time your child heads off to college they should have a solid concept of how money works. During high school you can begin teaching your teen about how loans and credit cards work. They should understand that the money you borrow must be paid back, it’s not free money. Make sure they understand what can happen if they don’t pay back a loan. You can also help them begin to build credit by co-signing on a car loan for them.
It is important to teach your kids financial concepts and responsibility at a young age. The sooner you can teach them the importance of saving and goal setting the better prepared your kids will be for their future as an adult.