5 tips for teaching your children about money

As a parent, you wish the best for your children. You aim to give them an upbringing that will ensure success in life. While your children are still little, it’s easy to indulge them with the fanciest clothes or expensive toys – after all, at this stage life seems to be an endless sea of fun and games. It’s a stage when they have zero responsibilities.

However, one of the best gifts you can give your children is teaching them about the value of money, so they can learn how to make wise money choices. Such early financial literacy lays a solid foundation for a life of financial security. When your children are still young, you are the centre of their universe, the fountain of all knowledge. That’s when they will most likely listen to the financial lessons you give them, so the earlier this teaching starts the better.

1. Start from an early age 

Teach your children about money slowly as they grow and their intellectual capacity increases. Pace your teaching to avoid overwhelming them with too much information when they will battle to grasp it all. Some money lessons can start as early as preschool age, the moment your children learn to count.

You could get them a savings jar so they can start saving some of their pocket money. Seeing their coins pile up will inspire them to save more, even if they’re not able to count very well yet. If you can make saving money a fun game, they’ll be keen to get into the habit. To get them used to the idea of earning interest on savings and investments, you might offer to top up the amounts they save at a set rate, until they have enough to open a bank account.

2. Let children choose their own savings goals

To encourage savings, let your children set short-term savings goals that are fun and meaningful to them. It could be a special toy, or an outing with friends like movies, laser tag, go-karting or a theatre show. The pay-off shouldn’t be too far in the future, so that they’ll experience the thrill of buying something they’ve saved for without too much of a delay, reinforcing the lesson. 

It’s crucial to set an example – think carefully about money and make informed financial decisions

Once they understand that it’s possible to reach a goal through saving and planning, you can encourage them to plan bigger savings for goals that are further off.

3. Teach them fundamentals about money

By the time your children reach primary school, you can start introducing them to more in-depth money concepts. It doesn’t have to be a complicated lecture. Start by explaining how your household budget works in simple terms, so they can understand how you use money in your home.

Explain what income is, and the ways in which the grown-ups in the house earn that income. List the expenses that this income must cover. In this way, children will learn early that money doesn’t grow on trees, and that they need to plan for every expenditure.

4. Let them learn from experience

Let your children watch you pay the monthly bills for the household. Use this opportunity to explain the importance of paying bills on time and the need for a household budget. Explain the importance of having a good credit record and, once they’re old enough to be learning about percentages at school, how interest works. Encourage them to ask questions.

You might decide to make allowances or pocket money conditional on good behaviour – like completing their chores and schoolwork, helping siblings and so on. This reinforces the idea that they need to earn money and not expect a handout.

Take them out grocery shopping with you and encourage them to compare prices between items – you can even take along the slip from your last shopping trip, so they can see when prices are increasing and learn about inflation. Allow them to pay at the cashier and teach them to check that they receive the right amount of change.

Encourage them to set goals with their pocket money and any other income they earn. Even if they make poor decisions and fall short of those goals, they learn valuable lessons to help them avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

5. Be a good role model

Your behaviour with money will influence how your children handle their own finances. If you are extravagant, resulting in stress over money, chances are that behaviour will be passed on to your children. So, it’s crucial to set an example – think carefully about money and make informed financial decisions. Children learn what they live, so you can raise the next generation to be more money-savvy by making better money choices of your own.