As a local banking professional and a mother of young children, financial literacy is a topic I think about often. I work daily with members of the community to help them with their various, and often complex, financial needs. When I have these conversations, I am often reminded that it is critical we give our kids the tools they need to achieve financial literacy at an early age. It will pay off well into adulthood!
During Community Banking Month, we celebrate National Teach Children to Save Day on Thursday, April 22, which is a perfect opportunity for both parents and caregivers to begin having conversations surrounding financial literacy. While it may seem challenging, there are countless small things you can do with your kids right at home. I’ll explain a few that have helped me over the years.
Get your kids a piggy bank and encourage them to use it. The traditional piggy bank should not be underestimated! Encourage your kids to save those pennies. They really add up, and give children something to look forward to as the piggy bank fills up. This is an important visual that will help keep them motivated over time. Make sure the kids remember to put their change from purchases right in the piggy bank. This seems small, but financial discipline and keeping track of available cash are good skills to learn early on.
As my kids grew a bit older the conversations have become more complex, but small and actionable tips help them continue to learn. I’ve always encouraged my children to make regular deposits into their savings accounts, even if they are small. This is a safe approach to keep track of cash, and you tend not to spend it if you don’t see it there in your wallet. As that savings account builds up, it’s always crucial children and teens learn to only withdraw from a savings account if they’re purchasing something they really need.
As kids grow, the needs versus wants conversation becomes especially important. Teaching kids about the value of money starts at home and we need to set a good example. I have always made it a priority to discuss needs versus wants so they understand we can’t always buy exactly what we want at any given moment. We are of course allowed to buy things we want – it’s part of being human! It’s just important to teach your kids that they need to plan for these expenses and make sure their needs are met along the way.
Again, teaching kids about the value of money starts with the adults in their life. Always lead by example, and remember, it’s never too early to help the children in your life develop good and sustainable financial habits.