5 FUN FINANCIAL TIPS FOR PARENTS: Helping Children Build a Strong, Positive Financial Foundation and Relationship with Money
As parents we always want the best for our children, and we always want to set the best example for them as well. Teaching children to understand and handle money and financial decision-making is no different.
Since it can be an awkward lesson to learn, or even more awkward to teach for that matter, here are a few fun tips to get the process started:
- START EARLY
Teach your children that their piggy bank is not just a toy, but it is also their friend. It’s something that will be with them for a long time. The savings habits that they will develop by using it will also stick around for a long time, so teach them to treat it with respect but to have fun with it as well!
2. SET REASONABLE LIMITS AND TEACH PATIENCE
‘Everything in moderation’ is a good motto, both for life in general and with money as well. Teach your children to make good, sound, well thought out financial decisions. Make sure they know that they should not rush into anything big without thinking it through first.
As we adults know, and as we should be teaching our children, anything worth doing or having in life, is worth doing right or putting in the effort to achieve. And sometimes patience and waiting for it, if it is that important, is a good lesson.
Teach your children how to make good, sound financial decisions. Help them and encourage them along the way, then let them take the reigns and make some of the final financial decisions themselves — within reason of course!
3. EMPOWER THEM
Don’t be afraid to talk about your own spending decisions and your own money habits as well as theirs, as age appropriate. Always encourage their input when you are making financial decisions and they are with you, whether it is in a store buying groceries or even just at the ice cream truck!
Life is full of teachable moments related to financial decisions and habits. Believe it or not, children are never to young to learn. They are watching our every move, so either we teach them ourselves or they’ll be learning about money and finances from someone else, maybe even on the street, and who knows what those lessons may end up being.
4. CHALLENGE THEM
Make saving money and developing spending habits fun for your children. If possible, turn it into a game. Make sure they know that money and financial decisions are not something they should be afraid of, be overwhelmed by, or be trying to avoid. Turn money spending decisions into something positive so they do not become intimidated by them and avoid them out of fear.
Let’s be honest here. As adults sometimes, maybe many times, we tend to approach a lot of financial issues with the attitude of the glass being half empty, right?
It is a good idea that we try not to pass that negative perspective on to our children.
We all know how children love to compete in a good challenge. They are competitive by nature and love to win. Try to come up with some fun activities and challenges for them related to saving money and spending money as well. It can be as simple as seeing who can fill their money jar fastest with coins in a month, or who can spend the least money in a store and still get the best toy, etc.
An added benefit here: Not only will these simple challenges teach them lessons, it will keep them occupied as well!
5. PRAISE THEM
This is a pretty big deal.
Always, always, always use positive reinforcement when your children make good, sound, well thought out financial decisions. No matter how simple those decisions may be to us as adults, its a pretty huge deal to them. Positive reinforcement goes a long way to building good money habits.
A simple “way to go, great decision,” can go a long way in developing a positive relationship with money and to teaching children not to be intimidated when having to make those bigger decisions later in life.
But, even more importantly, always, always, always use positive reinforcement and simple explanations when what they do with their money may not have been the greatest or best decision.
Read that last sentence again and let it sink in for a moment.
We want our children to develop a positive relationship with money. That being said, even as adults we all make mistakes (maybe especially as adults). But, as we know, it’s what we learn from our mistakes that matters most, not the mistakes themselves.
Those lessons are not only true with money, but with most experiences in life, so it is probably a good idea to pass that lesson on to our children now when the impact of a bad financial decision is not so great.
It’s times like these, as hard as it may be, that it is important for us as parents to stay off of our high horse and jump into lecturing our children, especially since our own next financial mistake could be just around the corner.
6. BONUS TIP: TEACH THEM TO BE KIND AND CHARITABLE WITH MONEY
Children learn many things from watching adults. That is multiplied many times over from watching us, their parents. Many times we do not even realize what we are teaching them or the impact it is having on them. We should be cognizant of that and pay attention.
They are sponges!
They look up to us, watch us, emulate us and are bound to copy what we do when they have to make similar decision, whether what or not what we do is good or bad.
Try your hardest to teach your children through your words, but more importantly through your actions, that sharing truly is caring. And make sure that they know that it applies to their money as well.
We, as adults, know that there is no way to put a price on the emotional and spiritual boost that we get in return from donating our money or our time, to a worthy cause, or by being charitable in helping out those in desperate need of either.
That feeling we get can be priceless!
Our children need to know feeling, and to be taught that lesson as well. They deserve to feel that good, and it is up to us to impart that most important of all financial lessons onto them.
Always remember, that as parents what we do is so much more important than what we say. Both of these things lay the foundation for how children will eventually interact with and perceive money, financial issues and financial decision making responsibilities as they get older. That foundation that we help them develop in small ways while they are young, will last them the rest of their lives.
It is up to us as parents to make that relationship with money and financial decision making a strong, positive one.
ONE LAST TIP FOR PARENTS
I think we can all agree that parenting is difficult, but it is also the most rewarding thing we are called to do, so it is important that we do our best. We are not infallible, we’re only human, and so are our children.
When it comes to teaching children about understanding and handling money, we are going to make mistakes. Don’t be too hard on yourself!
Just like all the other important lessons we try to teach them, it is imperative that we are consistent, but that we are also understanding and kind to them, and to ourselves, throughout the process.
And it will all work out just fine!