Do you remember when the hospital staff put that little bundle of new baby into your arms? Perhaps you met your child in an office somewhere or maybe it was a park. Regardless of how your child came into your life, I bet you promised yourself that you would make the best life you could for your child. A big part of making a good life for your child, means educating them about personal finance and setting their feet on the path to wealth. Here are six things you can do while your child is still young to help them do well.
#1 Open a savings account at a credit union
Credit unions have great customer service, lower loan rates, and are smaller than many banks. Opening an account a credit union allows the child to start developing a relationship with a financial institution and helps the child understand that money go into an account before one can swipe a card. Many credit unions also make an effort to reach out to youth, so they may offer incentives to open an account and yearly incentives to contribute more during Financial Literacy Month (April).
#2 Buy individual stocks for birthdays holidays
There are multiple sites where adults can buy individual stocks, complete with attractive stock certificates, for children. If the child is old enough, have them help by thinking about what products they use every day and why certain stocks might be a better investment than others. Place the stock certificates where they can view them often and bring it up in conversation.
#3 Encourage friends and family to contribute to a 529 plan
Most friends and family love to purchase new clothes or new toys for children. While any gift is certainly appreciated, a gift of $10 that could triple its value is much more helpful. Most 529 plans have a way for friends and family to put a few dollars in for milestones.
#4 Let the kid grocery shop with a spending plan and coupons
Kids see adults buying things all the time, but rarely do they understand why we choose one item over another. Including the child in grocery shopping helps the child to understand value over cost, that things do cost money, money is not infinite, and how money moves from a checking account to a vendor (through cash, check, debit card or credit card).
#5 Set limits at amusement parks
When you arrive at an amusement park, hand each child a specific amount and tell them that once they spend it, there will be no more money. As they spend, try to guide them by explaining the rationale behind each choice but do not force them to spend the way you want. If they run out of money and become upset, it’s a tough lesson to learn but would you rather have them learn this lesson at nine years old or twenty-nine year old?
#6 Sock the college fund in a Roth IRA
Investing for your child’s college education is good, but depending on where you put the money, the funds could count against the child with the financial aid office. A Roth IRA is a great place to park the money because it’s counted differently than other college investment plans, you can take out the principle with no fees whenever you want, and if there is money left over, that money can grow tax deferred until retirement. Talk with your fee-only financial advisor about this option.
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Shay Olivarria is the most dynamic financial education speaker working today. She speaks at high schools, colleges, and companies across the country. She has written three books on personal finance, including Amazon Best Seller “Money Matters: The Get It Done in 1 Minute Workbook”. Shay has been quoted on Bankrate.com, FoxBusiness.com, NBC Latino and The Credit Union Times, among others. To schedule Shay to speak at your event visit www.BiggerThanYourBlock.com.
I was reading the business section of the LA Times when I came across this nugget:
Because you make Roth IRA contributions with after-tax dollars, you can withdraw them at any time without taxes or penalties, just like 529 plans.
I knew that. I’ve done that, but it never occurred to me to contribute with the intention of using that money for college costs. Do you know what that nugget means? It means that:
- Instead of opening two accounts and having to schedule two contributions, you can open one.
- You can take out the money you put in, not the interest that you’ve earned, to pay for college costs after letting it grow for years and years.
- If you don’t end up using it for college expenses you can let it continue to grow until retirement.
- If you do want to use the money for college costs, the money in your Roth IRA with not count against your child for financial aid like a 529 plan would.
That is revolutionary. You can contribute, let the money grow, it won’t count against your kid when you apply for financial aid (FAFSA, scholarships, loans, etc.), and you can leave it there to continue to grow until you need it for retirement. The absolute best part? You can leave the funds left in the account after you die to your spouse OR any beneficiary that you designate and that money can continue to grow.
There seems to be no downside to opening a Roth IRA.
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