“I want, I want, I want!” How often do we hear our children say this simple phrase? And, let’s get real; how often do we catch ourselves saying it? In the past, most of us saw exciting new things we couldn’t live without in television commercials. Now, we simply scroll through our favorite websites. A plethora of “must have” goodies are displayed before our eyes, and with a simple click, the item is purchased. Even young children know how to scroll, swipe and click, because they watch us and learn.
Of course, we want our children to have the best of everything we can afford to give them. But, isn’t it more valuable to teach them how to balance “wants” with good money management? Teaching our children and involving them in money and asset management is crucial.
It’s never too early to introduce our kids to sound money management. In fact, the earlier the better! It’s important for young folks to understand how money works so they will grow to become knowledgeable, responsible and independent adults. Here are three simple topics to help you introduce your children to sound financial management.
- Making Money
Children must understand that earning money comes before spending money. I remember when I was young and said to my parents: “Just write a check.” Fast forward twenty years and my daughter says to me “Just use your credit card.” How do you help young people understand that money has to be deposited in an account before you write a check and credit card balances have to be paid with interest?
A great way to start is by explaining that you simply can’t pick bills from the magic money tree in the backyard when you need or want something! Introduce children to the idea that work and employment aren’t just for adults.
Kids will succeed if they understand that work is for their own benefit. It can be a fun experience helping kids discover that there are many ways they can make money, such as earning an allowance by helping around the house, walking a neighbor’s dog, shoveling snow or mowing lawns. Help them make the connection between hard work and making money. Let them know that many times the harder they work the more they can earn.
Ensure they understand that nothing is really free. There’s often a “catch” to those “free offers.”
- Saving Money
As your children start earning money or receive money as birthday or holiday gifts, teach them the importance of saving. Help them determine an amount to set aside and how to always “pay themselves first.”
A simple way to help them start saving is by opening a Bank of Utah Savings for Children Account, where they’ll learn first-hand how to complete banking transactions and deposit their own money. Having their own account will engage them and hopefully create excitement about saving!
Help them keep a register and explain how bank statements work, so they can see how savings grow.
As your children grow along with their money, make them aware of other opportunities the bank offers such as Money Market Accounts, CDs, IRAs and investment accounts. Introduce them to compounding interest where their own money makes money.
Also, encourage them to “give back” or donate to a worthy cause so they understand “what comes around goes around.”
Other conversations can include not making impulse purchases, stressing the idea of waiting a couple of weeks to make a purchase and the importance of saving for large purchases. As children begin to spend their own money to purchase what they want they will no doubt learn to take better care of their possessions and possibly think twice before spending their own money.
- Managing Money
Children observe and learn from watching adults and then mimic what they do, so lead by example. How we manage our finances greatly determines how our children will manage theirs. After you’ve helped them decide how much and how often to deposit money into their savings account, teach them how to wisely manage the rest and the difference between want and need.
A great way to show your children how to manage money is to teach them how to create a budget. Engage them in discussions about everyday living expenses, so when they become independent, they’re not surprised when bills start rolling in. After one such conversation with my son, he said to me, “I wish I had a template for family finances to be better prepared for adult life.”
Help them create and become responsible for their own personal budget and allow them to make mistakes so they can learn from them.
Involve your children in a family council where the family budget is discussed and ask them to make suggestions about managing the budget for a couple of months.
Another great option is to allow your child to open a Bank of Utah Student Checking account when they turn 16. They can then begin to manage their money and learn to responsibly use a debit card, online banking, bill pay and mobile deposit. With your guiding hand you can teach them about credit and when and how to use it.
Talking to your children about money can be difficult or even intimidating at times, but the more you do it the easier it becomes. Start by talking with your children and introducing them to responsible money management when opportunities arise. Use those teaching moments to be the example of how to successfully make, save and manage money.
Sherri Webb – AVP Branch Manager at the South Ogden Branch
I have worked at Bank of Utah for 30 years. I enjoy volunteering with Catholic Community Services Bridging the Gap program and with Junior Achievement of Utah.