The value of a dollar has changed over time and, with it, the financial lessons our children and grandchildren need to learn have also evolved. Many parents and grandparents want to teach children about money, but they don’t always know where, or when, to begin. These five lessons are easy for children to understand and build off each other as your child grows so that they have a wide base of knowledge for their financial future.
3-5 Years of Age:
Around three years of age, children begin to understand that they can ask for things like toys, books, and games. From their perspective, an item moves from a store shelf and into their home simply by asking. According to Carrots are Orange, this age range is perfect for teaching delayed gratification. Teaching the difference between a need and a want is an excellent lesson for this age, along with helping them begin to understand that sometimes we need to save money before something can be purchased.
6-8 Years of Age:
The Huffington Post reports that only 13 of 50 states require a personal finance course for students before they are able to graduate from high school. Because these lessons are not being taught in the majority of our schools, it is important to incorporate financial lessons at home starting at a young age. Children ages 6-8 years old are at a great stage for pretend play that utilizes money along with practical lessons from things like lemonade stands or doing additional chores for money. While playing supermarket, help your child to count out change. During the summer months, help them set up a lemonade stand and teach them how to determine what to charge based on the cost of the products they utilize.
9-11 Years of Age:
A key financial concept that is important to teach children is budgeting. While you can begin to teach the concept earlier, 9-11 year old kids will likely have a little better grasp on the idea. Consider giving your child a set spending amount to purchase snacks or toys from the store. Make a list together of things they would like, and encourage your child to determine the appropriate amount of money for each item. The important piece here, according to US News & World Report is not to bail them out if they make a mistake. Experience is a great teacher and allowing them to work through solving this type of problem is important.
12-15 Years of Age:
Investing has become a necessity for Americans who plan to retire as saving enough money for the golden years has become more difficult over time. Teaching children to invest can be fun and could make a lasting impact if it’s done well. Do some research together and discuss different types of investments and how risk and timing affect an investment. The Mint suggests setting up a fake account with your child or children and then tracking it with them over a year’s time. Not only can this provide a fun bonding experience, but it will help to plant the seed that investing is a long game.
16-18 Years of Age:
The day your child turns eighteen, they are officially eligible to open a credit card in their name. Teaching kids about credit and interest before they have access to it is crucial for their financial well-being. Discover reports that those with credit card debt carry, on average, $7,500 per credit card! With high interest rates and low minimum payments, the total cost over time for items purchased can grow out of hand rather quickly. This issue, along with the consequences of bad credit, can set someone up for a lifetime of financial trouble.
Sit down with your kids and explain how credit cards work. If you are able, consider offering your child credit through you, then allow them to make a purchase and payments with an agreed upon interest rate. Help them to track the total cost, including interest, for the item once it is paid off and compare it to what the original purchase price was of that same item. Helping teens learn this lesson early can potentially save them a lot of money and a lot of headache in the long run.