Research published a few years ago by the Financial Literacy Foundation, the Australians Understanding Money report, found that of the Australian tweens and teens surveyed, an overwhelming 82 percent of them wanted to learn more about understanding financial language. And 95 percent preferred to be taught by their family.
As parents, we can teach our kids some very important lessons, if we are willing to share our own experiences with them.
Here are a few age-specific suggestions
There are many fun money experiences to share with your young children and most of them involve actions rather than words.
- Make money visible. Making money visible helps pre-schoolers to understand that buying things does cost money. So when you head to the shops, try to pay with a good mix between cash and your cards.
- Make choices. Pre-schoolers can easily learn the concept of choice. For example, an ice-cream or a chocolate bar? A small toy or a colouring book? Learning how to choose between two options is the first very important step in learning how to budget.
Primary school age
By the time they start school, most Australian children have begun to earn pocket money. This is a perfect time to help them develop saving and spending priorities.
- Tell them what you did at that age. Talk to your kids about what you did with your pocket money when you were in primary school. Did you spend it at the tuckshop? How much did you save? Were there any big-ticket items that you were saving for? Sharing your stories will get your children thinking about their own options.
- Participate in School Banking. This is a great age to get your children involved in School Banking to help foster a regular savings habit.
Our tweens are starting to taste independence, so it’s great to give them some responsibility.
- Involve them in budgeting. Our tweens know that it costs money to keep a household running, so let them help to make some of the smaller spending decisions. For example, buying takeaway versus cooking at home. Or going to the movies versus buying a new T-shirt. This is a fantastic time to share some of your everyday spending decisions with your child.
- Let them make some big choices. As well as the everyday costs, give your tween input into some of the bigger spending decisions. One example is to get your tweens involved in planning and budgeting for the family holiday. As well as being a great money lesson for them, the planning can be hours of fun together.
Our teenagers are almost adults and as parents we can help them avoid some very expensive mistakes.
- Share your mistakes. This is the age to take a deep breath and share with your kids some of the financial mistakes that you may have made when you were younger. Credit card debt, overspending and underinsurance are all common mistakes. Also share with them anything that you wish you were better at doing right now!
- Share your success. As well as mistakes, make sure you share with your kids the money habits that you’ve perfected over the years. There are likely to be quite a few.
Sharing both good and not quite so good money experiences with our kids, in an age-appropriate way, can be a great learning experience for both parents and children.
For more information about financial literacy for kids, visit the Beanstalk.