Kids and Money

In some families, talking about money can be more uncomfortable than talking about sex. Money is such a deeply personal subject that lots of parents don’t know how to approach it. But children are learning a lot about money, whether from us or from television, magazines, friends, and so on. Here are some ways you can help your kids make decisions about money that reflect your family’s values, priorities, and budget.

Tips for . . .

  • parents with children ages birth to 5
    • Make some sort of plan for your finances. Even if you don’t do a complete budget, decide some big things like how much of your income can go toward housing, how much to give to charity, and how much, if any, you can save for your child’s college expenses.
    • Talk with a financial planner or adviser about your goals and priorities. Get expert advice on managing income, expenses, donations, and insurance needs.
    • Avoid carrying credit card balances as a way of paying for new baby equipment. Credit card payments are often temptingly low, but you’re paying for it in interest and fees. Furthermore, items that seem like they’ll make parenting easier will only complicate things if they make your finances more difficult.
    • parents with children 6 to 9
    • If possible, begin giving children an allowance with the clear expectation that they will save a portion and give a portion to charity.
    • Talk about the cost of things you buy and how you make decisions about what to spend.
    • Know that it’s okay to say no to kids’ requests for new things, or to tell them to wait for a special occasion. Lots of marketing is aimed at kids, and you’ll be teaching them an important lesson if you set limits on how many things you buy.
    • parents with children 10 to 15
    • Your children may be developing an interest in how much money you earn, how much certain items cost, how much you give away, and other financial matters. Think about how you want to answer such questions so you’re prepared when they arise.
    • If your children are interested in purchases you’re not willing or unable to pay for, encourage them to do odd jobs at home or in your community. Some young teens may be able to get part-time jobs at this age.
    • If you contribute to organizations or groups in your community, pay a visit to them with your child. Talk with a staff person about how the money is used, why it is needed, and how much it takes to keep things running.
    • parents with children 16 to 18
    • If they haven’t done so already, help your teens start savings or checking accounts. Go to the bank together, learn about the different options available, and choose one.
    • Ask your children to list several careers they are interested in pursuing. For each career, research together the education and experience needed, average starting pay, and pay after ten years of experience. If you need help, ask a librarian or school guidance counselor.
  • Together, choose an organization or group you want to support financially. Spend six months saving and then deliver your donation in person, if possible.

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