As parents, we want the best for our children. We want them to be healthy and educated. We want them to find a passion, be happy, and succeed. And if you’re a follower of Raising Savers, it’s likely you want them to start saving early.
In a highly consumerized world this is tough. From an early age our kids are exposed to media and peer pressure to spend, spend, spend. So, how do you raise kids who are financially literate and savvy savers?
What I’m learning is that simple, intentional, and consistent actions set the foundation for kids to be smart savers for life.
Yes, there are many great tools, charts, allowance methods, games, and spreadsheets you can use to teach your kids about money. And, there are many different topics to cover.
The first step is, however, is to set a foundation through modeling, open communication, involvement, and empowerment.
Let’s dive in.
Show By Example
We know all too well that kids learn from our actions, attitudes, and reactions. My one-year-old copies all of my expressions and funny little sound effects, and my clever six-year-old has a knack for re-using phrases I’ve said to negotiate “sticky” situations.
For better or for worse, “monkey see, monkey do” goes for money, too.
But not to worry, this is a really good thing! It means simply staying on course with your financial goals is a great first step in raising smart savers. (And, knowing our actions and attitudes have such an impact on our kids’ financial success is great motivation to stay the course!)
Talk About Money
All in all, my parents did a great job teaching me about money and modeling excellent saving and spending behavior. By middle school I had a checking account with an allowance to buy my own school clothes and by high school I was working during the summer to have my own spending money for the year. But we never really talked openly about money. And as a middle-child, peace-maker, I didn’t ask many questions.
As I entered college, I had no idea how a credit card worked (granted, it was 1998) and I was even more clueless about investing or the power of compound interest. But the lack of financial literacy aside, I was pretty embarrassed to talk about money with friends, family, or significant others. You just didn’t do that. It was too personal.
So boy did I have a kick in the pants when I married Mr. Saver who grew up in a household where money was an open book. Growing up, he knew exactly how much his parents made and it wasn’t considered rude to talk about money. It wasn’t personal. It was just money.
In fact, I would say one of our first major marital successes was opening up to each other about our income, debt, and expenses. (Although, if Mr. Saver was writing this, he would say it was more like “prying open” the books.) It was tough. But once we did, we were finally on a clear path toward our financial goals. Together.
The lesson here is that open communication – with our spouses and with our children – is really important.
Money is not personal. It is a tool. So, get the whole family talking about how to use money to create an awesome life together.
Involve Kids with Money Decisions
Next, involve kids with age-appropriate money lessons. How? Simply use everyday money decisions to help teach your kids about money.
For example, if the kids are grocery shopping with me, I talk with my older boy about why I am choosing one can of tomatoes over the other. We look at the prices together and we choose the can with the least expensive unit cost. Or, when he asks if we can go out to eat and I say no, I explain we could make ten dinners at home for the cost of one dinner out. We talk about the trade offs.
From every day examples to larger family decisions, involve your kids in the what and the why. As a result, you are teaching your kids to think analytically about money choices.
Empower with Responsibility
Lastly, don’t only model, communicate, and involve kids with money – empower them to make decisions at an age-appropriate level.
There are many ways to give your kids responsibility over money, and here is where the allowances, charts, tools, and activities come in. The lists of fun and engaging ideas are endless. Overwhelmed by the myriad of ideas on Pinterest? Don’t worry. It’s not so much what you do to empower your kids. The most important thing is that you are doing it, staying consistent, and making it a fun activity to build a foundation of financial literacy.
It’s 100% okay to let your kids try and fail. Life is full of ups and downs, successes and failures. And, what an awesome opportunity to teach them how to keep working toward a goal.
What else would you add? How are you raising smart savers? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a reply below!