Talking to our kids about money can be daunting. Where do you start? How do you start? When do you start?
As a Certified Life Coach, and Weekly Parenting Correspondent on Global News, I care very deeply about parents, kids and the wellbeing of the family unit. I often speak about the importance of financial freedom for women, and the messaging that it is never too early (OR TOO LATE) to begin. The more you talk about money now, the more confident you will be in your financial future. And while money doesn’t buy happiness, financial freedom can mean things like an early retirement, a home for your family, and the flexibility to make choices for yourself.
Here are my five tips when it comes to talking to your kids about money:
1. Start The Conversation As Young As You Can
Did you know that even children as young as four or five years old can begin to grasp basic money concepts? The earlier you begin this conversation, the more natural it will be to build upon as your children grow older. My kids always knew that mommy and daddy go to work when they go to school, to be able to pay for the things they love like the food we eat, the schools they go to, the iPad they play on! My kids both have had piggy banks from birth, and they understand the concept of filling them up, and then bringing them to the bank and putting the coins in their bank account to save for later.
Which leads us to….
2. Create three jars labeled “Save,” “Spend” and “Share”
It’s never too early to teach your children about money and finances. I love what some money experts recommend: Create three jars-each labeled Save, Spend and Share. Every time your child receives money whether for chores or a gift, divide the money equally among the jars. The spending jar can be used for small purchases, like candy or hockey cards. Money in the sharing jar can go to someone or a charity who needs it. The saving jar should be for bigger items they have on their wish list or for saving for the future. Your child’s first teacher is you. By fitting financial lessons into your child’s everyday life, they’ll learn about money without even knowing it.
Which leads us to…
3. Keep It Brief
The next time you buy groceries, or head to buy them their Nike running shoes, show your child how you swipe (or tap or insert) your credit card, sign your name or enter your pin, and how even though you didn’t exchange money, you are still responsible to pay for that. Then when your credit card statement comes in with that Nikey bill, show your child the statement, and what date you are responsible for paying for it. Money lessons right there! The idea is for your children (and yourself) to create healthy relationships with money, so take your time, and don’t do it all at once. It starts with small lessons, small exercises, and that starts with exposure.
4. Encourage Your Older Kids To Get a Seasonal or Part Time Job
Most students have a few weeks off between semesters and during the summer, and many companies hire extra help during the busy holiday season and during those summer months – a win-win for everyone. The beauty of a seasonal job or paid internship for your teens? Extra spending money! Encourage your kids to get a part-time job during the year or paid summer internship so they learn how to balance school and work, and experience the sense of satisfaction derived from working and being compensated monetarily for that work. It’s a beautiful thing! I will never forget my first job at Avenue Video, a local video rental store. I walked into TD with my mom, and we opened up my first savings account together at 17 years old where I could put my work money. To this day, I have the same bank account (only it’s become a chequing account instead, LOL).
5. Allowance Can Begin As Early As 10 Years Old
A good age to start an allowance is 10 years ago. Yes it is! By this age, most kids have acquired skills for good decision making and understand the concept of spending. It’s up to us parents to guide them once we decide to give an allowance. So, how much do you give? Well, that depends on your financial situation. The recommended amount is that kids get 50¢ to $1 per week for every year of their age — example $5-10 per week for a 10-year-old. Regardless of how much you choose, the key to teaching accountability is that when you do decide to start an allowance, give it consistently – meaning you should give the same amount on the same day each week. The importance of being accountable to your promises sets a good example for your children.
Because I love this topic, and I am there with my teen son now, I will expand a little here:
Should an allowance be tied to chores? This is a personal choice. Some experts think that it’s important to make this connection so that kids learn the relationship between work and pay. Others say that children should have a responsibility to help with housework / chores and get good grades unrelated to allowance. I am from the school of thought that you do NOT pay allowance based on chores. Chores should be done by all. Everyone should help out in the house – we’re all part of the family, we all help. I don’t believe you should tie a financial incentive to chores or good grades. Again, this is a personal choice.
My friends, talking about money with your partner, your child and yourself can be stressful, but remember, you are their financial teacher. Keep it casual, keep it natural. When it comes to talking about money, be honest, and take your time. You don’t need to talk about everything at once!
I can say from experience that TD is a bank that is committed to financial education, and helping families make good strategic money decisions. They have been wonderful to my family.
For parents looking to for a fun exercise to teach their kids about money, check out this Digital Activity Book. It’s amazing and I urge you to check it out.