Americans, especially younger generations, are struggling with financial literacy. The popular Jump$tart personal finance test showed that 63 percent of nearly 6,000 high school students failed their test on financial literacy basics. Living in a society that struggles with credit card debt, student loan debt and an overall lack of fiscal discipline should motivate us as parents to involve our children in money decisions around the home. Simple ways to teach your children about money can be found in everyday activities.
Don't Stop at No
How many times have you been at the store and turned down your children when they ask to buy something? If you're like me, it happens quite often. And it offers a teachable moment.
"Children need to understand Mom and Dad have a valid and thoughtful reason behind the 'no' to help avoid feelings of deprivation" said Shannon Ryan, a certified financial planner, author of numerous books on teaching children about money and founder of The Heavy Purse. "When those feelings of deprivation are not addressed, it can cause children to feel resentful and tell themselves that they will buy whatever they want, whenever they want when they grow up."
This is a great opportunity to point your children to your family goals. Those goals generally take money, and by helping your children see the bigger picture, it can mitigate that feeling of deprivation and excite your children about working as a family to reach these goals.
Save, Spend, Share
Many parents give their children an allowance. I received one as a child and loved it. While it may be fine to reward your children for things they do, an allowance can easily make children feel that they're entitled to receive money for nothing. Last I checked, no one gives us money for nothing.
This approach allows children to have a purpose or a goal for their money. They can begin to learn the importance of separating emotions from making financial decisions. This allows children to decide if they truly want a given item and to see the true cost of purchasing an item, saving for a future desire/need or helping someone else. They will also learn how to make money work for them.
Involve Them in Financial Decision Making
Your children are always observing you. They hear what you say, and they see the actions you take -- which often speak louder than your words. This is especially true when it comes to finances. I'm not saying you need to discuss specific dollar amounts, but allow them to be a part of the general decision making. You children will:
- See how you make financial decisions, which is incredibly important as you begin to teach your children about money.
- See how financial decisions should be made and what's important to the family.
- Have part ownership in the overall process.
We take this approach in my family as we want to help our children see why we make the decisions we do and excite them about our goals, such as where to go for summer vacation
While money may be a taboo topic in your home, it doesn't have to be. Children are much more aware of things than we give them credit for. By avoiding financial discussions they're not only kept in the dark as to what role they play in the family unit, but it also can hinder them as they grow older and begin to make financial decisions of their own. By using these simple steps to start teaching your kids about money you can positively impact their future and the future of their children.
John Schmoll is the founder of Frugal Rules, a finance blog that regularly discusses investing, budgeting, and frugal living. John is a father, husband, and veteran of the financial services industry who's passionate about helping people find freedom through frugality. He also writes about growing your wealth about Sprout Wealth.com.