How to Teach Your Kids about Saving Money

From virtual currencies to mobile payment apps, there are more ways than ever to pay for goods and services. The financial planning lessons you need to teach your kids are probably more complex than the ones your parents taught you. Here are several tips for raising financially-savvy kids in the age of electronic transactions.

Start Early

Some parents have a tough time talking with their kids about money. They might not be sure what financial facts kids should know or when it's appropriate to teach these concepts. They might also be concerned about transferring their own worries about money along to their kids. But not talking to your kids about money means they'll probably have a tougher time dealing with the transition to early adulthood and financial independence.

Start talking about money by turning regular family activities, like going to the grocery store, into teachable moments. Let the kids use your phone's calculator to add the cost of items going into the cart, and talk about the differences between needs and wants. Share the grocery budget with them and make shopping fun by turning trips to the store into a savings challenge. Be sure to also talk to them about different forms of payment. Cash, debit, and credit are the most obvious ones, but you can begin mentioning other forms of payment, too, especially digital transactions.

Encourage Saving

It's tough to convince kids to hold onto gifted money, like birthday or holiday cash, especially when they pass the candy or toy aisle. But teaching your kids that saved money grows will allow them to afford more than a candy bar, and it will remind them about the benefits of thinking before spending.

You can encourage saving by creating opportunities for your kids to earn extra money. Older kids can use the Internet for comparison pricing, and learning the difference between more and less expensive products. Younger kids might clip coupons, and each one you use at the store represents money they'll earn for their own account. Some of their earned money can be designated for wants, and some can go into a savings account. Turning saving into a game is great way to get kids excited about money management.

Use Apps to Your Advantage

Kids who are digital natives are primed to learn through apps, so take advantage of these tools. Smartphone and tablet apps are fun and may make tweens or teens more inclined to listen to your money lessons. Younger kids can use parent-approved and downloaded apps to learn how to recognize and count coins, while older kids might keep track of time spent on chores in order to earn and manage their allowance.

Teach Them to Budget

Budgets are most effective when introduced at a young age. Sit down with your kids and talk about what a budget is and what categories it has, like fixed living costs, debt repayments, groceries, transportation, etc. Work with them to develop their own budgets and help them understand how much money they have to spend versus total expenses. This will help them learn how to prioritize needs over wants and how to set long-term goals for big ticket purchases.

Talk about Unplanned Expenses

Financial literacy isn't just about what you save and what you spend. It's also about taking extra steps to help protect and secure your financial needs. Educating your teens about the value of life insurance, and disability insurance, for example, will help them understand the benefits of being prepared should the unexpected happen in the future.

Teaching your kids about money and financial planning is an important part of being a parent. The earlier you start, the better you’ll be able to prepare them for the future.