As children and teachers across America headed back to school with new backpacks stuffed with a raft of supplies, there is one important lesson that may be missing from the curriculum: how to manage money. Experts say these lessons should begin quite early in life. They recommend laying a sound financial foundation beginning at around the time children start school.
Here are some specific tips to get kids started at any age:
Ages 6 – 10
- This is a good age to begin giving your child an allowance.
- Consider tying their allowance to chores, or providing other opportunities for them to earn money.
- Begin teaching them basic lessons about borrowing and how credit works.
- Talk about savings and show them how bank accounts work.
- Children this age are ready to learn about interest and how their money can grow.
- Teach them the basics of creating a budget.
- Talk about their spending priorities as a reflection of their values and goals.
- Start to introduce them to different careers and the idea of planning for the future.
- Allow your teen to open a savings and checking account and have his or her own debit card.
- Teach your teen to balance their checking account.
- Talk to your teen about credit cards and teach them to pay off any balance monthly.
- Have a frank discussion about the cost of college and how finances will play into their choice of schools.
- Research scholarships and student loans together.
Most importantly, experts say that modeling sound financial decision-making is a vitally important way for parents to teach their children about handling money. As you think about helping your kids master this life skill, take some time to review your own saving, spending and giving habits. Talk to an advisor if you have questions or need some guidance. And remember, it is never too early, or too late, for you or your children to learn to manage your money effectively.