Children learn about money and making choices from the adults in their lives, and it’s never too early (or too late) to begin the lessons. There are many ways to make those lessons, and the learning that will happen along the way, fun for everyone.
Use games and stories.
Many games and books are designed to teach meaningful financial lessons while having fun. Everything from PBS Kids and Sesame Street in the Community to online resources through the US Mint and Claim Your Future® allow children to play and gain skills. Some of these resources include activities about careers to get kids thinking about education after high school and the need to save for that goal. Many children’s books have themes about savings, delayed gratification, and decision-making. Reading together is another great way to get conversations started.
They’ll have fun if you have fun.
Gaining financial knowledge is only one aspect of achieving lifelong financial capability. Our “money mindset” represents our unique set of beliefs and attitudes about money and drives many of the financial decisions that we make, playing a significant role in our financial wellness. Getting in touch with your own attitude and working to bring a positive perspective will be helpful as you begin to educate your child. Remember that you’re teaching about money, whether you mean to or not. Be sure to share your own stories, including mistakes. The important thing is to show that decisions about money don’t need to be negative or cause fear. Good money management can help everyone feel positive and more in control.
It’s a habit.
Saving money is one of the most essential aspects of achieving financial freedom. It is also one of the most significant lessons to teach your child. Using an allowance and introducing the concept of paying yourself first can start as early as preschool using a piggy bank. Once the piggy bank is full, take your child to the bank to open up their own savings account.
Another effective approach is to help them create savings jars to set aside money for spending, saving, and giving. Consider matching their savings as a way to motivate their progress. Encourage the habit of lifelong saving and the value of education by opening a 529 college savings account on their behalf and encouraging other family members to contribute. Talk with them about the account and watch it grow together!
Get the entire family involved.
Including the entire family in the budgeting process is a fun way for everyone to become more informed consumers. Whether it is comparison shopping, taking advantage of discounts, or setting a family challenge to see who gets the best deal, children like to be active participants and develop important saving habits at the same time.
Financial education is a tool to empower the future of every child. Teaching your child how to spend, save, and share money will help them build lifelong financial skills and allow them to experience the satisfaction of setting and achieving goals, which creates the true joy and fun of learning.
About the author:
Eva Giles is College Savings Program Manager at the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME). FAME helps Maine families afford higher education through financial planning tools and programs, including NextGen 529–Maine’s 529 plan.