How to teach your kids about money.

How to teach your kids about money.

In this year’s City Press Money Makeover competition one noticeable quality is that the candidates are actively including not only their spouses in their finances, but their kids as well.

Unfortunately, financial literacy is not taught in schools as it should be, and the responsibility lies in the parents to teach their kids about money. I still find it bizarre that such an important subject is not part of the curriculum; if our kids are smart enough to learn a new language, play an instrument, learn maths and science or even know what happens on ‘black Friday’ when parents go on a shopping frenzy surely they are smart enough to learn about savings, investing etc.

When you give these tools to your kids, you are giving them an ‘unfair’ advantage in life because they will be better equipped to navigate their own personal finances and avoid financial mistakes that sometimes take years to correct.

When parents include their kids in the day-to-day but age-appropriate discussions about money, they become adults who are confident about how to handle their finances.

  1. KIDS LEARN BY WATCHING!

One of the best and quickest ways for your kids to learn about money is through observing their parents throughout their childhood and adulthood. Whether you talk to them about money or not, your kids are taking in how you as a parent interact with your money.

Think about yourself and what you can distinctly remember about money in your household; this probably still affects the way you handle your own finances as an adult today.  If you want your kids to learn about money it means that you will have work on your own relationship with money and turn it into a positive one.

2. USE SIMPLE LANGUAGE

Use simple, easy age appropriate language for the stage your kids are in. It is likely that the topic about money will not be received with excitement from the get go, but make it a point to discuss it often in real life scenarios, for example, when going grocery shopping, draw up the shopping list with them and tell them roughly what you intend on spending. This means that they will also have to include their snacks within that budget and agree not to be distracted when you get to the shops.

3. LET THEM EARN THEIR MONEY

Don’t just give your kids an allowance; let them earn it. Let them earn their money by doing some chores around the house, for example, if you have a pet, making sure that the pet has food and water, washing the dishes, washing the car etc.

Obviously the chores have to be age appropriate. Hopefully, this will not only instill a good work ethic but it will also teach your kids that money is earned.

4. SHOW THEM THAT STUFF COSTS MONEY

A simple but yet underrated way to teach your kids about money and buying stuff is to let them actually buy the stuff. For example, when my 4-year-old son said he wanted a watch, I told him that it would cost R100 and mommy only has R50, so he needs to wait until I can earn the R50 to which he agreed. I put the R50 on the table and for the next three weeks, I added R20, R20 and R10 respectively to this money that was on the table. And every week he had to wash his own dish. Once we had R100 I went to the shop with him, the R100 in his hand and told him to ask the shop owner how much the watch was and buy the watch with me standing at the door without helping him.

Now most times, not all times (he is 4 after all) he asks, “mommy, how much is this?” and other interesting questions about money.

The point of my story is that, kids have the ability to learn about money, we just need to be patient and willing to teach them, no matter their age.

5. THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING!

One of the most important things a parent can do is to buy their kids some shares or invest in a Tax-Free Savings account for them every year as a gift for their birthday or a Christmas gift for example.

I am careful not to say buy investments instead of toys because yes, kids love toys but what I am saying is that if you buy investments for them (plus a small and affordable toy, if you can) and present them with this gift on their very special day, that memory will stick with them for the rest of their lives.

In the long-term, the hope is that this may spark their interest in how money works and ownership vs. consumerism.