By a show of hands: Did your parents teach you how to balance a checkbook? To use a credit card responsibly? To save for retirement?
If you’re like most people, very few of you raised your hands. In fact, most of us just learned by doing and made a lot of mistakes in the process. (I know I did, and I messed up a lot!)
Here’s the truth: teaching your children about money, budgeting, saving and planning is one of the most important things you can do as a parent. In fact, the earlier you start introducing these concepts, the better.
The credit union recognizes how important these lessons are, that’s why we have the Money & Honey Bee Kids Savings Club and the AMP Teen Club. These programs are designed to entertain, educate, and encourage kids to learn, ask questions and get comfortable with the concepts of numbers and money. We also have branches in several local schools, making students aware of our services, encouraging them to save, and teaching them how credit unions differ from banks.
But for a really strong financial foundation, kids need to learn money skills at home by watching and talking with their parents. Here are a few easy things you can do with your children, starting when they’re toddlers that will get them comfortable with money and how best to manage it.
• Use cash to pay for things so they can see how it’s exchanged for goods.
• Play games with money like Monopoly or Life or help them set up a pretend store with play money.
• Encourage them to find and cut out coupons in the newspaper and mailbox fliers.
• Assign age-appropriate chores and pay them for the work they do.
• Get them a Moonjarso they can learn about spending, saving and giving.
• When they enter the middle-school years, give them a set amount of money to use on clothes for school and let them decide how they’ll spend it.
• For high school kids, be sure to teach them about credit histories and scores before letting them get a credit card.
• Share your own financial missteps with them so they can learn from your mistakes.
• When they get their first job, teach them about 401(k)s, IRAs and the importance of saving for retirement.