Teaching your children financial skills is critical for their future. 80% of parents believe that their children are being taught personal money matters in school, yet 90% of high school students and 87% of college students say that whatever they know about money they learn from their parents. Among parents with children 5 and older, only 26% feel well enough prepared to teach their kids about personal finances. Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy measured 12th graders’ knowledge of personal finance basics and found that only 10% of high school graduates could satisfactorily answer questions about personal finance.

Not sure where to start in talking to you kids about money? You’re not alone. But, much like teaching your kids to look both ways before crossing the street, managing money, is a parental responsibility that safeguards kids’ future. Good habits start early in life and the savings habit brings lifelong benefits. Kids are interested in money and they can learn by example and by doing. Sharing how and why your family is saving emphasizes the importance of this positive, lifelong habit.

Engage your children using some of these simple, fun suggestions and help them learn the value of money:

1. Explain to your kids what money is all about. You can start doing this once you see that your kids are already able to learn how to count. The earlier you can teach a child or teenager about money, including earning money, saving money, and spending money responsibility, the better prepared they will be to manage their own money.

2. Talk to your child about the family budget. Allow them to ask questions about household finances and how you manage the household budget. Reinforce the learning process by budgeting for a family outing or a purchase.

3. Encourage children to start saving by opening a savings account for them. If they are younger, you can still make savings “real” to them by having them build their savings in a piggy bank or clear jar. You can motivate them to allot a portion of their allowance to their savings. If you have multiple children, one way to keep them motivated is by giving a prize to whoever earned the highest amount in their savings.

4. Explaining the value of spending money can also be done at home. You can assign some household chores and pay a small amount once they were able to do it. This will help them realize that money is not earned easily and should be spent wisely.

5. Show your children how an ATM machine works. While many children know that money doesn’t grow on trees, they may think it comes out of a wall. Help your kids understand that you must put money in the bank before you can take it out.

When you discuss money with kids, you help them develop a sense of limits. You’re teaching kids that the family has to make choices about how it can spend money. There’s only so much money to go around — if you spend it on some things, you won’t have it to spend on others. Teaching your children about saving money doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Remember to be patient and consistent, and your children will be able to learn this critical skill in an easy and fun way.

Barbara House is the founder of Really Busy People, www.reallybusypeople.com – a website dedicated to providing current news, informative articles, time-saving products & services to simplify your hectic, busy lifestyle.

by Barbara House

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