How to raise money-savvy children
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Editor’s note: This guest column originally appeared on Mommination.com

It is back to school and most of us including myself have made the decision to become homeschool parents. Despite the stress this has on our kids and ourselves, it is in our best interest as parents to protect our families. With that being said, as parents, it is our God-given responsibility to teach our kids the right way to live in every area of life and that includes financial literacy.

Yes, we must raise money smart kids.

This skill and behavior has to be nurtured over time, so it will not happen overnight. Remember when you were teaching your little baby to walk? It is the very same thing — a process.

It involves learning the value of saving, spending wisely and understanding the difference between wants and needs. The behavior comes from the habits that are created in practicing these skills over time and learning from mistakes.

It is very important to start your children on this financial journey early. They are like sponges, soaking up everything we do and say. So why not position them to learn the fundamentals of money that is essential for their future financial success. Right?

Here is an age-by-age guide of activities to help you raise money smart kids:

Ages 2 to 3

This is the perfect time to start teaching your child basic addition, including the names of coins. There are many fun ways to help your child learn the names of coins through identification, matching games and pretend play.

Toy cash registers are a great tool to introduce financial literacy to young children.

YouTube is a great option with fun learning songs. You can also purchase a toy cash register or teach them how to shop for items in a pretend store using grocery items from your pantry.

My girls love to play pretend restaurants. They are foodies like their mommy. They go all out with a menu and have so much fun using Play Doh and money.

Ages 4 to 5

This age is a great time to start including addition and subtraction problems to counting money. It is important to discuss with your children the difference between things they want and things they need, and that they sometimes have to wait before they can buy something they want.

Children need to know that they need money to buy things. Letting them choose between two items they strongly desire when at the store or online is a good lesson in money management.

With children this age, try coupon clipping with your and explain how it saves your family money.

Ages 6 to 8

If you haven’t started already, it is also a good time to introduce your children to chores and the concept of working for money by giving your children an allowance for certain completed tasks. It’s such a great incentive to get children to do their chores with less screaming and headaches, trust me.

Take your children with you to the grocery store and teach them about price comparisons. Hold seasonal lemonade sales. Let your children participate by giving the change at the store.

Comparing prices and saving at the grocery store. Photo: Roxanne Cowans

Help your children open their first savings account and teach them the process for saving money in their account.

Talk to your children about your career and what you like about your job or business.

Ask them what they want to be when they get older. This will teach them that people work to make money and that they can work and enjoy their job and/or start their very own business, too.

Ages 9 to 12

Hold an annual yard sale and allow your children to price and sell their own items. This will teach them about setting a value for their items, making decisions and negotiating prices.

Let your children sit with you while you pay the bills. As they watch, they will understand that adults have to work to earn money to pay their bills. They’ll also learn about the types of expenses it takes to run a household.

As your child is able, teach him/her how to balance a checkbook.

It is very important to have a thorough and honest discussion with your children about credit cards. Explain to them that credit cards are loans, not free money, and that if credit card bills aren’t paid in full within a month, they will wrack up interest and pay more than they originally spent.

Be sure to also explain to your child how banks pay out interest for saving money with their institution.

Ages 13 to 15

Be a model for your children by exposing them to real-life money situations. Photo: Roxanne Cowans

Be sure to model and teach your children to spend wisely. Teach them the difference between quality and quantity.

Encourage your teen to get a part-time job, such as babysitting, mowing yards or working retail or food services. Teens enjoy the power and freedom that comes with earning money and making spending decisions.

Your teen will learn that hard work nets income, which in turn gives them a lot more options.

But, be sure you are monitoring your teen’s ability to manage school, activities and a job. While a paycheck is nice, a balanced life is essential to your child’s well-being.

Teach your teen how to budget the money they make through their allowance and/or part-time job. Explain the necessity of saving, the value of donating to charity, tithing and the importance of spending wisely.

Ages 16+

Assist your children in opening a checking account. Teach them how to write checks and manage and balance their accounts. This will teach your children how to keep an eye on the bigger financial picture.

Explain the relevance of credit reporting and how maintaining a good credit score can benefit their financial futures. Spend time with your children learning how the stock market works, what it is and why people invest in it.

Discuss college financing options and have a plan (before your child’s senior year of high school). Ensure your teen understands how student loans work, how they accrue interest and when they have to be paid back.

Roxanne Cowans is a financial professional and blogger based in Texas. Connect with her on Instagram: @consultwithr.ox.i

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