With spring in full swing and summer just around the corner, many of us are making plans with our families and children for the warm months ahead, even if many of us will still be traveling less than normal.
As you make plans for vacations, lake days, family get-togethers, camps and other warm-weather fun, take the opportunity to talk to your kids a little bit about money. Even kids as young as 4 or 5 can start learning valuable money lessons. Plus, keeping their brains busy learning new skills between school years is always a good thing.
Money Lesson 1: Saving for the future. If you’re wondering where to start the conversation with your kids, having them help save for the cost of summer activities, or that new inflatable pool toy is a good strategy. This will help them begin to understand that saving now can bring reward later. Sit down with your kids and give them a goal to work towards, tying it to something they’re looking forward to this summer. Offering to match what the child saves can help with bigger or longer-term savings goals, and provide further incentive. It’s important to set realistic objectives that are obtainable – the reward of getting to pick out a new toy or start that first day of camp will encourage them to keep saving.
Money Lesson 2: Work Pays. Even young kids can begin to earn money for household duties. Go over what chores are the responsibility of each child, and assign dollar values to those activities. Whether it’s as simple as daily tooth-brushing or something better suited to older kids, like mowing the lawn or remembering to take the trash to the curb on the right day, earning money for a job well done can instill a solid work ethic that they’ll take with them later in life. Especially if they’re saving up for summer fun, the rewards will be well worth the effort they put in. Plus, you’ll get to see the joy in their faces as they reap the benefits.
Money Lesson 3: Wants vs. Needs. We see many of our adult clients in the office who still struggle with knowing the difference between a want and a true need. But starting this conversation early with your kids can help them know the difference before they run the risk of falling into debt buying things they don’t need. The next time one of your kids asks for something new, take the opportunity to discuss whether the requested item is necessary, or a nice-to-have. If last year’s swimsuit is too small, explain that that’s a need. If it’s a new pair of shoes that all the other kids are wearing, that of course is a want. Learning this distinction now could pay off big down the road.
How do you talk to your kids about money? We’d love to hear your stories and strategies during your next planning meeting.
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