How to Teach Your Kids Financial Literacy

How to teach your kids financial literacy

April is Financial Literacy Month so it’s a great time to teach your kids about how to manage money. Unfortunately, one in five 15-year-olds in America lack basic financial knowledge, according to the Program for International Student Assessment. In order to get your child up to speed, here are five suggestions for teaching them about money:

Teach Children the Difference Between Needs and Wants

The best thing you can do for your children to teach them to be smart about their finances is to stress the difference between needs and wants.

A very important money skill to learn is the relationship between needs and wants. Needs are things we must have to survive – items we can’t be without, such as food, water and a home. Wants are things that we’d like to have, but aren’t required for survival, like a bike or a piece of pie. For children, separating needs and wants can be difficult. First, discuss with them what would happen if your family spent an entire paycheck on Legos one month and there was no money left for food or electricity. Explain that even though buying lots of Legos would be great, you also have to pay for needs like food before you can buy the things we wants. A good way to help your children distinguish between needs and wants is to discuss specific items while you’re out shopping. Ask them to point out items that are needs or wants as you walk through the aisles.

Teach Children Patience with Purchasing

Teaching your son or daughter to be patient about their purchases is key to financial literacy.

A good financial lesson children should learn is how to wait to make a purchase. Practicing patience will help cultivate self-discipline for saving money when they are adults. As a parent, you can help your kids develop this skill by not purchasing every item they ask for. Set an example by avoiding your own impulse purchases and explaining why you aren’t buying something you like until you save money for it. Encourage children to think through purchases. They should ask themselves whether they must have something immediately or can wait and have it later.

Teach Children the Benefits of Saving Money

It’s important to teach children the time value of money. Your kids probably won’t understand how money saved over a long period of time has the potential to grow. You can demonstrate this by creating a way to pay them interest on the money they save. Seeing how a penny saved is a penny earned is an excellent way to demonstrate how investing works, and more importantly, how saving money benefits them in the long run.

Teach Children How Money Works in the Real World

Don't be afraid to show your kids the reality of money - show them how finances work in the real world.

A child’s perspective on money is much different than an adult’s perspective. $500 will seem like $500 million to a kid. It’s up to you, as the parent, to teach your children how much money is needed to run a household. When it comes to explaining the realistic value of money, try speaking in percentages instead of dollars to make finances seem tangible. Teaching your kids about money management is a long-term commitment. The comments you make and questions you answer over time will have an impact on their outlook.

Teach Children about Money Using Apps

For many kids, money is an abstract topic that they can’t wrap their heads around. Fortunately, there are many apps for smartphones and tablets that can help explain financial concepts in ways they will understand. Try Savings Spree (for kids ages 7), which offers engaging, fun and educational activities. It’s easy to use and teaches kids about earning, spending and saving money. Savings Spree also explains concepts such as charitable giving and investing. Another quality app to consider is Renegade Buggies (for kids ages 6+). This is a dynamic shopping game that teaches kids about financial literacy. It focuses on saving while at the grocery store, and offers kids smart consumer strategies.

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