Starting early can make a world of difference when it comes to teaching children to save and make sound financial decisions.
Luckily, there are simple ways to teach kids about money and help youngsters learn smart saving techniques. Here are some approaches to teaching children the valuable art of saving.
1. Teach kids about money with actual money
In a world where anything can be purchased with the swipe of a card or typing of a password, the simple reality of cash can help teach the value of a dollar. That’s why using physical currency can be a smart way to teach kids about money. Counting coins and bills can also help preschoolers with hand-eye coordination and math skills.
2. Pay your kids a commission
Kids are like little sponges. They absorb everything around them—especially the things their parents are intentional about teaching them.
But here’s the thing: Many parents today are so centered on what their kids want that they lose perspective on what their kids really need. And what kids need more than stuff—what will benefit them most over the course of their lives—is to understand the value of hard work.
Teaching a child to work is not for our benefit as their parents. We teach kids to work because it gives them dignity in a job well-done and the tools and character to win as adults. They might complain now, but someday, they’ll thank you.
The worst thing a parent can do is to become a human ATM, handing out cash whenever little Timmy wants to buy something. What parent likes that, anyway? But that’s kind of the idea behind a traditional allowance. You give your kids money whether or not they’ve earned it. Even the word “allowance” implies a child is entitled to a certain amount of money just for living and breathing. And here’s the best part: Hard work is an antidote to entitlement—and key to learning the value of a dollar.
What We Know as Adults We Learned as Children—Your Kids Will Be No Different
There’s a way to teach kids that money comes from work, and you can start when they’re as young as 3 or 4 years old. Want to know what it is? It’s the commission system, and it’s actually really easy to do!
First, keep the jobs and the pay age-appropriate. For example, pay your 3-year-old a quarter if they put away their toys or 50 cents if they make their bed. Don’t worry about quality at this point. Just make a big deal about completing the job, do a little cheer, and pay immediately. Then they’ll make the connection between working and getting paid.
3. See the savings
Using a clear container as a bank can help give kids a sense of accomplishment watching the coins and dollars stack up. Make goals visible by marking a line on the side of the container as a target to reach. Not only does this teach children about saving, it makes reaching goals exciting and fun!
On the other hand, let’s say you have a 10-year-old. Give them more responsibility and independence to succeed or fail. Assign a list of chores they need to complete throughout the week, like feeding the dog, washing the dishes, or taking out the trash. At the end of the week, add up how much they earned based just on the jobs they actually completed, and pay out that amount.
If you start your kids on commission at a young age, they’re off to a great start for earning money outside of the home as teens. And that work ethic will stick with them into adulthood.
4. Teach children to allocate their savings
To introduce money management, as well as delayed gratification and charity, encourage your child to divide their money into three piles: savings, spending and sharing. You can do this online with the website Threejars.com, where kids can track their earned allowance and even earn interest on savings.
5. Set saving goals
Help your child develop savings targets to make sure savings isn’t an open-ended concept. The first goals should be reachable, fun and defined by both the parent and child. Sure, it may seem silly to save for a small toy, but the sense of achievement is worth it.
6. Teach kids about saving money in a bank account
As your child matures and has accumulated at least $100 in long-term savings, look into a bank savings account. Most major banks offer children’s savings accounts that can be opened online or at a local branch. A trip to the bank may be a new and fascinating experience for your child, inspiring a sense of maturity and financial responsibility. It’s also a great time to teach kids about other money concepts, like interest and risk.
7. Have conversations about saving
The best tool for money management is conversation. Parents should talk to their kids about money matters like budgeting and investing. Aim to mirror good money behaviors, but remember it’s also okay to admit to your own money mistakes.
Show your kids what smart money management is. Visit Nationwide Bank for information on banking, investing and more.