Teach Your Kids About Money
When you send your children to school, you expect them to learn the basics of education: reading, writing, and arithmetic. But do they also learn the basics about money? Even most high schools don’t teach stand-alone courses in personal finance, according to the Council for Economic Education.* So it’s up to you to teach your children how to manage their money. But where do you begin?
It’s getting harder to teach kids about money nowadays, since we’re relying less on cash and more on cards and mobile payments. For young children, however, seeing actual money is important in this learning process. So you might start by teaching them about coins, keeping them in a clear piggy bank or jar so your children can see their money. Even if they can’t count it yet, as you add more coins to their banks they will watch the amount grow and physically see the process of saving. There are also board games and apps you can use to introduce money concepts in a fun and educational way.
As your kids get a little older, you can start to teach them how to budget their money. One method is to have more than one piggy bank or jar labeled for various purposes, such as one for day-to-day spending, one for saving, and one for charity. So, for example, if you give your children an allowance, you can help them learn to budget by figuring out how much to put in each jar on "payday."
Eventually, you may want to move on from a piggy bank to a savings account. As your kids start to earn money by doing chores or getting jobs outside the house, you could talk to them about putting part of their earnings into their account to save for a bigger purchase later on while keeping a smaller portion on hand for everyday use. Having a savings account will also teach your children about accumulating interest and how that can add to their earnings. Be sure to go over their account statements with them to show them how to keep track of their deposits, withdrawals, and interest payments.
Learning how to create a budget is even more important when your kids move on to having a checking account with a debit card. Teenagers looking forward to their financial independence should understand that using their debit card means taking money directly from their account and should learn how to keep track of what they’re spending so they don’t run out of money.
It’s also important to educate older children about credit cards and how buying on credit works. Make sure they know about the interest and other fees that come with having a credit card and that credit card debt can quickly become unmanageable when balances aren’t paid off at the end of each month.
Investing may be a more difficult concept for kids to understand than saving. There are games and apps to play with your young kids to teach them about investing as well. As your kids get older, you can teach them about the stock market by having them choose a stock for a company they’re interested in (a store or a brand they like, for example) to follow online. Explaining how money gets invested and watching the ebbs and flows of the market can be a good start to understanding investing. You can show your teen how money grows in their college savings fund, if you have one. You may also want to talk about investing for other goals, including the basics of how you are investing for your retirement.
While your children may not get a formal financial education in school, you can give them the information they need. Starting with the basic concepts of saving in their early childhood and continuing to build on those skills can help set your kids up for financial success later in life.
Sound money management is an ongoing effort that takes knowledge, time, and commitment. If you or a family member would like assistance with personal financial matters, an experienced financial professional can help.
*Council for Economic Education, 2018 Survey of the States, February 2018.
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