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.
Model financial education early and often.
I’m so happy to read that more educators are understanding the need for ongoing financial education. Children are learning about money from the time they are born. They are seeing you make it, and spend it, they are hearing you talk about it, they are forming opinions how about it should be spent. This article states it beautifully
And just like inoculations that require booster shots, financial education isn’t a one-time learning. We need to demand that it be taught in high schools and colleges. And we as parents need to have the “money talk” with our kids early and often.
I couldn’t agree more. I speak at elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and colleges for that reason. You’d be surprised how many thoughts young people have about money. We have to start early and we have to talk about financial education consistently. More than that, we have to model the behaviors that we want to instill in young people.
I’m often asked how old kids should be when you begin teaching them about financial literacy or what book children should read or what skills should be focused on. I think sometimes it seems like trying to teach kids about financial literacy is a huge task that some parents don’t want to do. Let’s make this simple: use everyday situations called “teachable moments” to instruct on what good habits are, encourage critical thinking conversations, and model those habits.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Teachable moments are those opportunities that children provide by way of questions. You know, “Daddy, how does money get in the ATM” or, “Auntie, let’s stay in the hotel with the gold toilets, we’re rich, right”. We’ve all been there. Sometimes we’re too busy to sit down and have an intelligent conversation about these topics, but many times we have the opportunity to provide a valuable life lesson with just a few minutes worth of your time.
During the conversation encourage the child/youth to think critically about what you’re saying, ask questions, and even challenge your wisdom. Only through a clear understanding, through their own process, can children begin to create their experiences with money. Have no doubt, that children are watching what you’re doing and viewing the habits of others to start deciding how they feel about money and money habits.
Which leads me to the last, crucial, part of using teachable moments to help children understand financial literacy. After you’ve shared the correct habits/behaviors and encouraged the child to think critically about the topic, you must make an effort to model those habits. All the talking in the world won’t blind your child to what’s going on in the home.
You don’t need to have a huge discussion with your child when they turn 16 or schedule weekly meetings to discuss the current state of events, unless you want to. Taking a few moments when you’re child provides and opportunity for a teachable moment will allay the stress surrounding money for both you and your child.
Youth Service America and Disney are pleased to offer the Disney Minnie Grants to fund children’s efforts to improve their communities. These grants of USD500 are for children (ages 5-14) or the organizations that engage them, to implement youth-led service projects that address the issues of Poverty, Hunger, Education, Environment, Global Citizenship, Sustainable Community Development, and Disaster Prevention & Relief. Applications are accepted from all over the world. Projects will take place in the months of September-November 2009. Apply online at www.ysa.org/awards. Accepting applications: April-June 15, 2009. Questions? Email MinnieGrant@ysa.org
I use Google alerts to stay abreast of what’s happening and I lucked upon this site that outlines strategies for teaching your children about money. Take a look and find ways to help your child become astute about financial matters.
I read this article this weekend and I wanted to share it with you. The article talks about how sometimes when we save money from coupons, sales, etc. instead of saving it in an interest baring account we spend it.
I had to think about how many of the students we work with see older siblings, parents, relatives, etc. use this same strategy. We tell our kids that “we don’t have money for that” while we’re clipping coupons and asking neighbors for referrals to find that must have item with a low price tag and then turn around and buy something completly unnecessary. For example, I will tell my husband that we don’t have money to buy new $150 jeans then I’ll suggest that we go to dinner at our favorite Brazilian steakhouse that usually sets us back about $100. Curious, no?
In this time of financial uncertainty maybe we should all think about our choices. I mean the things that we do and say as well as the things that are non-verbal that others pick up on.
What are we teaching our children?