Written by Bennett Queen, Greater Nevada Credit Union
When did you first learn about money? Many people are taught the value of a dollar at a young age, and that then shapes the way they spend money the rest of their lives. April is National Credit Union Youth Month, and across the nation credit unions are promoting the importance of teaching youth ways to earn, spend, save, and manage money wisely. These lessons are important for kids and even a good reminder for adults, since these principles often aren’t taught in school. Below is an overview of how you can instill good money habits in your kids, no matter what age.
Ages 3-6: Setting an Example of Good Money Habits
It’s important to start teaching your kids about money early on, and it’s never too soon to open their first savings account. In the earliest years, children learn by imitation. You’ve seen this before when you make silly faces at a baby and they try to copy you. Children can take on facial expressions, movements, behaviors and more, just from watching you. In the same way, you can use this technique to teach your kids about money. For example, if every time you’re going out to eat, you’re paying with a credit card, they may begin to think that it’s the only way to pay.
To help them develop good money habits, talk to them about purchases you’re making and you can even engage them by letting them make small purchases for themselves. Having the money leave their hands and showing them it won’t come back once it’s spent can be a great lesson in itself.
Ages 6-12: Teaching Your Kids About Earning and Saving Money
When children become a little older it’s a great time to teach them the importance of earning money. According to Time.com in 2015, 70% of kids received an allowance. For most parent’s that means paying an allowance for helping out with chores. Another alternative is to reward them when they go above and beyond what is expected, which also helps better prepare them for adulthood.
This is also a good age to introduce the cost that comes with spending money. Take your kids for a shopping spree with their newly earned income. Before they make their final purchase decision, you can remind them that if they spend everything now, it will take that much longer to save up for that larger expense, like a bike or video game. If they decide to spend it, that’s fine, it’s their money. But eventually they’ll learn that the candy bar they bought may have set them back from buying their favorite game.
Ages 13-16: Teaching Responsibility with a Checking Account
As they grow out of childhood and begin to become young adults, give your kids more responsibility by opening a checking so they can more easily access and monitor their money. This might be a good time to help them set a budget so that they have a clear understanding of how money goes in and out of an account, and how to avoid fees by overdrawing and how to save more by spending wisely.
Ages 17+: Saving for Higher Education
Toward the end of high school, it’s time to teach your kids about one of the biggest investments they’ll make in their life, furthering their education. Just thinking about how much a higher education costs is daunting, but talking through it with your kids and informing them of options like scholarships and student loans can provide a light at the end of the tunnel. Be sure to go through FAFSA before applying because the US Department of Education can offer grants for those students in need.
Another big step is the importance of using credit to your advantage. We have a great post about how to start establishing credit that can be a resource for those about to go to college or for those who want to start building credit.
National Credit Union Youth Month is all about teaching positive money habits to our nation’s youth.