As parents, we're trying to "nail it" in everything we do for our families. We know we're getting things wrong (fingers crossed it's not the big things!) but we're still trying to do things right. Too often we become overly concerned with trying to do the "right thing" that we become immobile and end up doing nothing. We see this when parents try to figure out the "best way" to teach their children good financial habits. Because there are no hard and fast rules about which conversations to have at which age, we end up having none. And since most money habits are formed by age 7 according to a 2018 study by Purdue University, we don't have time to allow our children to figure this out on their own.
We aren't suggesting that you sit down with your children to "have the conversation" as a one time item to check off your list (as much as pocketnest loves lists and checking things off!). Rather, teaching financial habits is best done through leading by example and using real life occurrences as teachable moments as they come up. Simply being aware that as parents it's our job to share real world experiences (including financial ones) with our children is helpful, certainly not in a way to burden them, but to teach them in appropriate size doses.
Need a road map and some specific ideas to accompany your commitment to share real world finances with your children? Okay. Here are some of our favorite one-off suggestions on teaching children about money and an infographic for what's appropriate at each age.
Start slow and ask open ended questions regarding money. How do they feel about money? How do they earn money now? How will they earn money as an adult? How do they think their parents earn money? Let them think and answer and lead the direction of your questions. You'll know when it's enough.
Be honest. If you don't know the answer to a question, or if the questions isn't something you are willing to share with them ("how much do you make?") tell them that. But encourage them to continue to be curious.
Consider an allowance. If they have no means to receive income, they have no means to build wealth (relative wealth), make mistakes and learn financial habits. Some parents tie allowance to chores and some do not, we recommend doing what works for you and sticking to it. As all parents know, consistency is really important with kids.
Make it fun. For pete's sake- remember Monopoly and The Game of Life? Games like these do teach basic financial concepts and it's fun.
Real world opportunities. When your child loses a library book, breaks something or wastes something, discuss it. See it a moment to revisit finances, money and values. Let them sit with you while you pay your utility bills. We're fans of teaching children real numbers to get a sense of how much things cost in the real world.
Looking for more basic age by age guidelines?
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