That means that parents have to give their children the bulk of their money education, which is not always easy if the parents are fighting financial demons of their own. Parents might do well to bring up the issue of their kids’ money education with a trusted financial adviser such as a certified financial planner professional while the child is very young. Family money issues cover a lot of territory, and every individual seeking out that advice should ask about how they should educate their children in the good habits they’re trying to learn. It’s one more valuable aspect of the planner relationship.
Money values-both good and bad-are among the most important lessons parents pass on to their kids. The best money values shouldn’t stop at self-reliance. They should help a child form his ideas about rewards and gratification and hopefully, generosity to others less fortunate.
The right age to start. Maybe with the words “I want!”-preschool is not too early. Children learn by observation and mimic the habits of their parents. for example, if your child is watching you get cash from an ATM, that might be a good moment to explain how that money got there and how you have only so much inside and you have to be careful not to overspend.
Watch your child’s behavior-see what he or she wants to buy. Start asking them bow they plan to pay for things. This is your window on whether your money messages are getting through. “I want” and “I need” are always opportunities for you to teach. Some pretty serious money issues can come out of the mouths of babes. Listen for them.
As children become teens, they want more autonomy with their spending. You need to match that trust with accountability. If you deposit money in an account for them to spend on essentials and treats, talk about what you are willing to pay for in addition, and make those agreements ironclad. Kids will always come to you with their hand out, but they need to know where you’ll say “no.” Don’t be afraid to tell them how hard you had to work for that money that they’re getting for free. This can be a bit delicate because most kids quickly label such discussion as a lecture, but your job is to explain that spending means choices throughout the family and provide realistic examples of why that is the case.
Parents shouldn’t make their kids feel that they have to do sweatshop labor for every dime they receive, but there needs to be an ongoing discussion about what the parent will always cover and what is fair for a child to earn.
Make sure they keep their bank book or monthly statements in a safe place, and make sure they deposit funds at least once a month to get in the habit. You might also consider mutual funds geared toward young investors. Morningstar.com ranks mutual funds in all categories, but the site can help you locate mutual funds with low opening fees as little as $100 and minimum deposits of $25 or more. They rank them for quality as well.
If money is an emotional subject in your house, it’s going to be emotional for the child. There needs to be a balance of firmness and understanding in any discussion of a money error, but that’s what it needs to be-a discussion.
Telling kids about family money troubles. If you have a sudden reversal on the job or if the family suffers an investment loss that will affect spending at home, again, there’s another balancing act. Kids need to know there’s a need to economize without being terrified about it. Families need to have a sit-down meeting when family finances change, and kids need to know what they can do to help. Employing kids in the family business. Bringing your kids into the family business at legal age accomplishes two worthwhile goals. First, the child learns something about the business that’s been supporting his or her lifestyle (and possibly whether they want to enter the business full-time at a later date).
There are other benefits as well. If you hire a child under 18, you may not have to pay Social Security, Medicare, or unemployment taxes. The amount of that compensation must fit the task, however, or the IRS will get testy. Also, your business must comply with all child labor laws. Talking to kids about credit. Its best if kids learn about the use of credit while you’re all under the same roof-not when they’re off to college. Try to cosign with them on a low-limit card that they can use for agreed upon expenses, and make sure the bill comes to them every month. Talk about the pay date so you can make sure they’re paying on time.
Talk about college early. Even if you plan to pay your child’s entire tuition, you need to talk about the financial investment college represents long before they go. You can also talk about whether your child will have to pay any expenses on his own and how he’ll earn them. The massive investment college represents is a great opportunity to discuss what the most important things in life really cost.