Although intended for families with younger children, Jessica Weaver’s advice to help kids become financially literate applies to teenagers as well. Inherent to financial literacy is defining one’s values, which is an essential tool for teens and families reduce the risk of college malinvestment.
The other day I was squeezing in some work while sitting with my daughter, Andie! She pointed at the computer and said: “Mommy, that’s the store!” I guess she is right, but that wasn’t what I thought the store was when I was her age.
When I was 2 years old, the store was a magical place you drove to with your parents and got to run around in. But to a 2 year old in today’s world, the store is the internet. It must be even harder for them to grasp and understand since they can’t touch or see it.
How do you explain to your children about money when the world is so different from when we grew up? Money is almost invisible in today’s society, stores are online, and we get paid electronically.
It begs the question: HOW MUCH MONEY DO OUR CHILDREN ACTUALLY SEE AND TOUCH? And HOW MUCH MONEY TO THEY WITNESS US TOUCHING AND INTERACTING WITH?
I’ve realized that in order to teach our children about money, we HAVE to meet them where they are at NOW! What does that mean? It means we first must start by understanding their perception of money before we can impart our money wisdom!
Step 1: Ask your child open-ended questions about money! Get them talking about it, make them comfortable talking about it and asking questions.
I began to ask Andie a few questions:
Mom: What is your favorite store?
Andie: The money store!
Mom: What is your favorite thing to buy with money?
Andie: lollipops and ice cream of course!
Mom: Where do you want to work when you grow up?
Andie: The money store, duh!
Mom: What is your favorite thing about money?
Andie: Buying toys!
Now depending on your child, your questions may be a little more in-depth and the answers might make more sense than toys and the money store!
But I’d encourage you to start asking your children questions before preaching to them the importance of saving money.
Step 2: Ask your children what YOU say about money!
After asking them about money, have your children repeat what mom and dad say about money. OOOH this will be very eye opening! My niece said gas is expensive! Her mom and dad must say gas is expensive enough for a 3 year old to repeat it! Do you have a certain saying about money like, “Money doesn’t grow on trees”, or “We don’t have enough money for that…”?
It’s interesting, sometimes scary, and ALWAYS eye opening when you hear an innocent child repeat what you say, especially when it comes to money! It’ll also push you to be more positive around money, to talk about it more openly, and to bring them into the conversation.
Step 3: Building Healthy Money Habits about money!
Once you are all on the same page, you can try my favorite money activity for children! All you need are:
- 4 envelopes
- Crayons, markers, stickers, anything to decorate with
The envelopes will be labeled: Spend, Save, Donate, Contribute
- Spend: Allow your child to spend a percentage of the money he/she earns or is gifted!
- Save: Inspire your child to save a percentage of any money that comes their way! Start with 10 or 20%, it’s an amazing habit they will continue for the rest of their life!
- Donate: Have your child research and pick a charity or foundation to donate a percentage of their money. The more invested they are in cause, the more they will donate and feel good about themselves!
- Contribute: Challenge your children to contribute some of their money every month to the household budget. Even if it is $5 each month, your child will gain so much confidence AND learn how to budget in day to day expenses!
Jessica Weaver is a best-selling author of Confessions of a Money Queen, blogger, wealth advisor, and founder of the #pinkfix movement, celebrating women and their wealth.