Whether your child is two or 18, there are valuable lessons about money that need to be taught. Education about money is often neglected in families. Many times this is because parents just don’t know where to begin.
Toddlers to Preschoolers
At this age, the money lessons are pretty simple. Your child should know that you need money to buy things, and you can get this money by doing a job. When you are out shopping and your child is with you, you can pay with cash, so your child can see the actual money exchange hands. Talk about how you got the money by working.
A child this age should also start to learn the difference between needs and wants. There are things that you need to have to live, such as food and a home. Other things are nice to have, such as toys, but they aren’t needs. In addition, your two- to five-year-old should learn that sometimes you have to wait to buy something you want. Model this by your own behavior at home.
School Age Children
A typical six- to ten-year old should learn to realize that there are choices that need to be made about how to spend money. It is a limited resource. Having separate piggy banks for saving, spending and donating can bring this lesson to life. In addition, learning how to compare prices or shop around for the best price is important.
The lessons about protecting money now come in to play. Placing money into a savings account will protect it and earn interest. Sharing information with a friend or online about your money can be dangerous.
Preteens and Tweens
By the time a child is 11- to 13-years old, he or she should start to understand the importance of saving for the long-term. Encourage at least one dime out of every dollar to be saved (10 percent). Through compound interest, the money you save makes more money, so the sooner you start to save, the better. This can be illustrated with a bank account, either though a regular bank or parent-funded.
Entering personal money information online, including using a credit card to make purchases, can make it easy for criminals to steal your money. In addition, credit cards aren’t free money. When you use a credit card, you are taking out a short-term loan and will be charged interest on the money you borrow.
From the ages of 14 to 18, a youth should really be able to consider the full costs of making a purchase, whether it is for the latest electronics or the choice of a college. For example, the cost of a car includes not only the car itself, but also gas, insurance and maintenance costs.
Many teens get jobs and start earning money, but they need to understand that the first paycheck they get may be for less than they thought after the taxes are deducted.
Now is the time to start some serious saving for the future. A Roth IRA is a good place to start. It allows money to grow tax-free for life.