There’s one important subject that your children may not learn in school: personal finance. If you want your kids to pick up good money skills and become financially responsible adults, you should give them some training yourself.
Pre-schoolers and teenagers obviously have different financial concerns and abilities. But there are a few basic lessons that all children should learn by the time they enter college or start a career.
- Having money means making choices. Teach your child how to choose between spending and saving, and how to do both intelligently. A regular allowance will help your child gain real-world financial experience.
- Money requires planning. At the appropriate age (usually about nine or ten), show your child how to develop a simple spending plan. In later years, show how to plan for larger expenditures.
- Money means responsibility. Inevitably, your child is going to make some money mistakes. Try to avoid criticism, but don’t automatically fix every problem and let your child off the hook. Help analyze the reason for the mistake, and suggest how to avoid it in the future.
- Money needs to be managed. Specific lessons might range from how to compare interest rates on savings accounts, to the pros and cons of mutual fund investing. But there should be one common element to all of your teaching in this area: money doesn’t take care of itself.
The way you handle your money may be the most powerful lesson of all for your children. For your child’s sake, as well as your own financial well-being, it’s important to practice what you preach.