This week is Michigan Money Smart Week. Several programs are going on around the state providing free advice to help educate families about money matters. In fact, the Bank of Birmingham is meeting with Detroit area fifth-graders this week. They also have provided some tips today to help parents talk with their children about money — from savings and budgeting to investing and why we even have bank accounts.
When it comes to teaching kids about money there are two very important factors. The first is to talk with kids about money and how it works even when they are young. Second, be a good role model to show them how to deal with money. Kids of all ages can understand basics about money; for example, how much a toy costs and if they need it or want it. As they grow, they can understand more complex issues such as saving, budgeting and investing.
Below are tips on how to talk with children about the basics of money. Start the conversation early and show them how money is part of everyday life to help them build a solid foundation for their future.
- Needs vs. wants: When children ask to buy something talk with them about if it is a “need” or a “want.” Explain that “needs” are things people must have to live, like food, clothes, or tools for school, and that “wants” are things that are special treats such as toys, going to the movies, and candy.
- Earning vs. gifts: From a young age, children can understand that they can earn money from doing chores and can then use those earnings to buy things. Help them realize the difference between working for money and when money is given as a gift. Share what your family does to earn money as a way for them to learn part of why people work and the larger economy.
- Saving: Explain how it is important to “pay yourself first.” A good lesson is to work with children to put part of the money they earn or receive as a gift into a savings account so they will have it in the future. They can even keep a tab of how much they have to see how their money grows and when they will have enough money to buy something special.
- Budgeting: When discussing needs and wants, you also can work with kids on budgeting for today and the future. Young children may understand if they spend all their money on one item, they won’t have enough money for a treat later. As children grow, sharing the family budget can be helpful especially when talking about paying for camps, a special trip, or college.
- Shopping: A trip to the grocery store or mall is a great time to talk about money. Discuss why it is a good idea to make a list of the things you need in advance. Don’t buy the first thing you see unless you have already done your homework. Is it the best deal? Do you have a coupon? With older kids you can also discuss taxes, sales, and credit cards.
- Why do people use banks: Take children with you to the bank or show them how you use an online bank. Explain that people use banks to keep their money safe; banks offer interest on different types of accounts so you can get paid to have your money in a bank; and keeping your money in the bank helps avoid impulse spending.
For more resources, visit Operation Hope’s Banking on Our Future program.