April is Financial Literacy Month. It’s also tax month and money is on the mind
for most of us, for better or worse. Whether
how to spend it or how to save it, money is in all of our lives, a connective
tissue that directly affects our quality of life.
I have a friend who recently lost a large sum of money. He lamented, “Why didn’t someone teach me
when I was young how to handle money?” It
got me thinking how important it is to teach our children good money habits
early. It’s closely tied to building
habits of responsibility, which are directly related to success in life.
Financial literacy is a skill that also ties
in nicely as our children learn numbers, counting and math. As with all learning, we grow as go. Build financial literacy into your child’s
future by beginning with a few simple steps.
1. Family chores are a good place to start.
Neale Godfrey, chairman of Children’s
Financial Network, Inc,
recommends starting your kids as early as 3 with two types of household
Good Citizen of the Household chores: They don’t get paid, but learn the valuable
lesson that contributing to community well-being is the right thing to do.
Work-For-Pay chores: The
Work-For-Pay (allowance) teaches them how to earn and budget their money. These are real-world life skills that will
carry them into a successful adulthood, where knowing the value of their own
worth and what to expect from others are keys to a brighter financial future.
When I was growing up, my weekly allowance was
tied to completion of my weekly chores.
The understanding that good effort and keeping your word are rewarded
goes a long way toward becoming a responsible adult. For more on why responsibility matters, see
my blog on the Marshallow Test.
2. Be a good role model.
“Two things define you. Your patience
when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything.” I came from a family of modest means. The standard joke my parents used to say was,
“Here’s a quarter. Go get yourself
something special.” Fact was, my siblings and I often found
special things that didn’t cost much but we enjoyed to the hilt.
Life is more about attitude than money. Living within our means meant enjoying simple
things, while dreaming big enough to know that within each of us, we had the
ability to live the lives we desired.
Money is a tool, not a limitation.
Dream big, work hard, play hard.
And educate yourself about financial management. It is a learned skill. If you feel at a loss when it comes to money
(as many of us do), consider working with a financial planner. Confidence has so much to do with success.
3. Talk about money with your children.
It’s strange, but we are often squeamish
about money, whether saving it or discussing it. But in reality, it’s just a matter of knowing
how to handle it. Encourage hands-on
skills when it comes to saving. Here is great
site for parents: http://moneyscholar.org/cart/index.php?main_page=page&id=8&chapter=0. It offers a piggy bank for kids that has four chambers: saving,
giving, spending and investing. Another
valuable resource is Warren Buffet’s Secret Millionaire’s Club, a tool for
teaching kids about money and investing.
Here’s to your family’s financial health!