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How to Teach Kids Good Money Habits

childrens savings account

Instilling your children with responsible money habits and leading by example can help them work toward a stable financial future.

From setting up a savings account and figuring out an allowance to explaining how budgeting and credit scores work, different financial discussions are appropriate for different age groups.

When you decide it’s the right time to start teaching your kids good money habits, keep these tips in mind.

Start Talking About Money

When it comes to discussing money and financial topics with their kids, 25% of parents were somewhat reluctant, 14% were very reluctant and 11% were extremely reluctant, according to a Parents, Kids & Money survey from 2019.

However, 53% of the children surveyed – ages 8 to 14 – said they wished their parents taught them more about money. Before your child reaches the age of seven, start talking to them about money, the importance of saving and how much different goods and services cost.

Open a Savings Account

It’s never too early to open a savings account in your child’s name. This is where you can deposit any funds they receive on birthdays and holidays, before they’re old enough to make their own financial decisions.

This money can start gaining interest, and your child will have some funds to start learning with when the time comes. What’s more, the age of bank accounts can help them with applying for credit later.

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Giving Allowance

Allowance is a great way for young kids to start earning money. According to a survey from T. Rowe Price, 51% of parents said they give allowance, but their kids have to earn it. This is opposed to 17% who give allowance without any requirements and 32% who don’t give allowance at all. What’s more, 52% of parents surveyed said they give $10 or less per week.

How you decide to grant allowance depends on your parenting style. Some parents give allowance for daily chores, like making the bed, feeding a pet, putting away dishes. Others only give allowance when their kid(s) go beyond regular/expected responsibilities.

When it comes to the amount of money you should give your child as an allowance, experts tend to say that, on a weekly basis, 50 cents to a dollar for every year of age is appropriate.

Emphasize Saving

When teaching your kid about saving, use a clear container – like a mason jar or plastic tub – to allow them to watch the progress of their savings. You can even have more than one, labeling each for different things, such as saving, spending and giving.

Many children take well to visual learning. Seeing the dollars and change stack up over time makes tracking goals clearer and can lead to a bigger sense of accomplishment.

Explain Budgeting

If there’s something your child wants, teach them how to purchase it through budgeting.

Show them how to set a financial goal, including the price of the item they want, plus a little extra so they’ll still have some money left afterwards. If they don’t have any savings remaining from birthdays and holidays, they may be able to save faster by doing extra chores, or they’ll simply have to be patient and save up to meet their goal gradually.

grandkid money

Introduce a Debit/ATM Card

If your child/teen gets a part-time job, they should have a more secure place to save their money. When your child becomes an adolescent, it’s time to consider whether they’re ready for a debit/ATM card.

A debit card allows them to pull funds from a checking and/or savings account and make purchases. Show them how to track their spending, maintain minimum account balances and remember to replenish their savings after a larger purchase.

Today, a lot of banking is done online, and many banks have apps that allow for easier money management. Help your child stay on top of their finances by setting up low-balance alerts, charge notifications and more.

Start Building Credit

Once your teen is a bit older and starting to think about college, trade school and/or making a significant purchase like a car, it’s time to teach them about credit.

Your teen will need a credit card in order to start building their credit. Teach them what does and doesn’t affect their credit score – like credit card use, payment history and more – with this guide.

Have them use their credit card only for charges they have the money to cover. Then, have them pay off balances right away. Also, emphasize the importance of checking their purchase history to find and report fraudulent charges. And make sure they know what to do if their credit card number is ever stolen.

Finally, let them know they are entitled to one free annual credit report each year from the three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. This will allow your teen to track the progression of their credit score as they try to get at close to 850 as they can.

Be a Good Example

It’s true that you will likely need to be a co-signer for certain accounts for your kids when they are young, and you’ll be acting as their financial advisor for many years. However, one of the most important things you can do to teach your kid(s) good money habits is to lead by example.

Show your child how you budget, save and spend responsibly by being a strong saver and savvy spender. Sharing your tried-and-true financial habits, as well as money mistakes you’ve made in the past, can all become valuable lessons to the young people in your life.

How do/did you teach your kid(s) good money habits? Tell us in the comments below.

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3 Thoughts on “How to Teach Kids Good Money Habits

  1. We started a monthly money plan including savings, long term savings , spending and charity. If chores weren’t completed the kids were charged a fee. We opened a savings account and started at age 6.
    Both children become good at money management.

  2. A thoughtful and informative article, until you say parents will likely be co-signers. Very contradictory to the foundation of money and learning the power and security it brings as well as fun. Co-signing perpetuates the I can’t wait for things and plan for them. It reinforces it will take too long to implement a long term plan. Saving should happen for things we know need or want. It can establish goals and discipline. Co-signing is a clear, express path to financial ruin for anyone signing on to be the savior, when life doesn’t go as planned. Bad advice to co-sign. Run for the hills. Make sure you are not a burden to your children. Do not co-sign. Rolling up our sleeves for things we need and want reaps an amazing feeling of confidence and self empowerment. It begins with a child’s very first job and continues throughout life. Stay blessed for all you have and provide for yourself in life.

    1. Yes, children should learn to be responsible –
      but there are times when a co-signer is needed to help someone take the next step.
      When I bought my first home, I was going to pay the mortgage by myself, but I didn’t qualify without a co-signer, so my dad agreed to be my co-signer. (And he didn’t have to make any of my mortgage payments.)

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