April is National Credit Union Youth Month! Not only do we plan on celebrating our area youth this month with some fun activities, but we also want to focus on teaching kids about finances. That’s where you as parents, guardians or other influential adults, come in to help! To be financially literate is to have the skills and knowledge to make efficient decisions regarding money management.
Why is financial literacy important for our kids?
We’ve heard it before, “Kids don’t need to know about money.” Don’t they, though? If they aren’t taught about money and budgeting and credit, how will they effectively manage their finances as adults?
Financially illiterate adolescents turn into unprepared adults. Primary financial education creates adults that can make great financial decisions about savings, debt, and large purchases (like cars and houses).
Teenagers are often compelled to choose a college to attend before they graduate high school. Statistically, most of them don’t actually know how to shop around for the best tuition prices. They often aren’t sure how to set a budget to live on their own for the first time. They aren’t aware of how to properly use a credit card to build their credit without building debt.
Financial literacy isn’t yet a part of STEM curriculum in most public schools. It is up to us as influential adults to help our kids learn about money.
How to Teach Children 5 and Under About Money
Save money in clear jars instead of piggy banks. This allows them the visual of seeing their money growing. Talk about it growing with them, “Look, last week you had 4 quarters and 1 one-dollar bill, this week you have 6 quarters and 2 one-dollar bills!”
Let them buy things with money. Allow them to take a dollar or two out of their jar when you go shopping. Allow them to buy something, let them pick it out and pay for it at the register. Help them understand the price versus the amount of money they have.
Open a savings account for them and have them go to the credit union with you to deposit their savings so they witness the interaction. Carefully explain what’s happening while the teller takes the money.
How to Teach Elementary-Aged Children About Money
Start teaching about opportunity costs by saying, “If you buy that T-shirt instead of the tank top, you won’t have enough money left to buy a candy bar.” Allow them to weigh-in on their decisions.
Instead of just giving out an allowance for nothing, give them a list of chores with dollar amounts attached to each chore they complete. $1.00 per day for doing dishes, another $1.00 per day for vacuuming the living room, $10.00 to mow the lawn, etc. This will help your children understand that money is earned.
Teach them about impulse buying. If they see something at the store they MUST have at that moment, tell them they can use their earned allowance for that; but if it’s over $15.00, tell them that if they still want it the next day that you can go back to the store for it.
Continue bringing them to your credit union so they can check the balance on their savings account. Have them give the teller their money to add to their savings. Have them save their receipts so they can track their account growing over time.
How to Teach Teens About Money
Teach them about not comparing what they have to what others have. If they complain about how their car is older than everyone else’s at school, let them know that their car still gets them from home to school and work, and that’s all cars are for anyways. Or if they want to buy name-brand clothing, let them know they can do that or they can save that money for a summer concert and be creative with their current wardrobe.
Give them ownership of their accounts at the credit union. Open a checking account (like this one) for them and give them a debit card. Help them track and balance their account weekly.
Teach them about credit cards before they turn 18 and get all those offers in the mail. Credit cards are not bad, but they need to be used properly to grow credit.
Help them find their first job to make their own money. When they get a job, show them how to set up direct deposit into their account, or how to do a mobile check deposit.
Financially literate adults in the future start with us now! Give your kids the gift of financial freedom. It’s time to start teaching kids about finances!