How to motivate kids to become more financially responsible without candy, chocolate, and manipulation.
How financially savvy are your children?
Let’s be honest: our kids are smarter than us. When it comes to technology, app downloads, and what the coolest streaming service is, our children are running circles around us while we’re left scratching our heads. They grew up in a tech boom and have never experienced a world without smartphones and the “there’s an app for everything” mantra. But when it comes to financial literacy, those advantages can suddenly become roadblocks. Tweens and teens today have checking accounts and even credit cards, making it easier for this generation of “swipe right” believers to spend cash without hesitation.
So where do you start?
The best way to curb a generation of spenders is to start early. For a child under 12, set up three money containers—one each for spending, saving, and donating—and every time your child receives allowance, gift cash from grandparents, or earns money through chores, encourage them to divide that money amongst each jar. Use it as a way to talk about the importance of doing all three things with their money and then collaborate with your child to decide how important each action is, and what percentage should get assigned to each. There may be plenty of recommended allotments, but how your child divides up his or her money should be unique to what you and your child decide is most important. And, sometimes the percentages might change based on a specific goal or need for your child—that’s ok too. You can do this money management method the good old-fashioned way by using mason jars, shoe boxes, or any other sturdy container.
Or, if you’re family is more digital-friendly, try an online tool like threejars.com. In any case, having a set money management system in place in the home will help your children understand the value of delayed gratification and allow them the rewarding feeling of donating money to help others. They may even become so good at managing money that a family trip to the mall doesn’t end in a tense stand-off in the toy store because they can no longer live in a world without that obnoxiously over-priced stuffed Olaf. Well, probably not, but it can’t hurt your chances.
We all make mistakes, and your child will too
Financial growth and skill mastery takes time and practice. Heck – some of us never fully reach money maturity or make sound spending choices every day. Expect your child to make mistakes too, mistakes like spending everything in their spending and savings account on a whim. Be prepared to let them know that it’s okay, we’ve all done it. (Raise your hand if you’ve ever gone into a store to get just one thing and then left with several bags?) *raises hand*
But do make an effort to have a conversation about it and help them get back on track. No matter the mistake, the discussion that comes from it can be invaluable.
For more advice on where to start when teaching your child good financial literacy skills, check out this great Bankrate article.