8th November 2011
Financial literacy tips – how have you taught your kids about money?
It may not rank up there with the awkwardness of the birds and the bees talk, but discussing money management with tots or teens can still be a touchy topic. While outside factors and our own personality traits affect our spending and savings styles, we learn part of our approach to money from family. That’s why it’s important to set a good financial standard for kids early in their lives.
We spoke to a few parents to see how they’ve tried to teach their kids about money. See if you can implement one of these lessons in your home.
Fiona Visser runs what equates to a mini-bank in her home. Each week, she gives her kids pocket money equalling 20 cents per year of age and also doles out a few cents for certain chores, like making lunch. But the funds don’t go into one piggy bank. Her kids have four different sections of their money boxes from which to choose: spending, saving, banking and giving. They can vary the amounts, but Fiona makes sure her kids put something in each of the four sections.
“At this age, they don’t need much money of their own since everything they need is provided by me, but I think it’s really important to teach them about the value of money, how to save (and sometimes sacrifice) for something you want and to consider others who are less fortunate. And when they’ve saved up and worked hard for a $30 toy for months, they really appreciate it and take care of it!” she says.
Showing them your point of view
Youth worker, author and speaker Nigel Lane shares a few tips on raising teens on a budget on his site. Chief among them: getting your kids to walk in your shoes. Showing them the reality of how much things costs and the potential financial drain of buying them everything they want may slowly start to make dollars and cents to them.
Other tips Nigel practices in his household include giving allowance, showing what types of choices kids can make about shopping and explaining how income breaks down. “Show them your income and how little you have left every week/month,” he writes on his site. “Their allowance then becomes their mini salary and you can talk to them about savings, tithe, fuel costs [if they drive], eating out.”
Applications of accounting
Accountant Tracey Sharah uses the principles of her occupation to teach her preteen and teen about money. The biggest tip she’s given them is to save half and spend half. They also know the cost of household bills and how to bargain shop.
“They have also experienced and learned how to spend too much and how to look for value for the money they have to spend,” she says. “My 17-year-old is incredible with her savings and my 12-year-old is very cunning when looking for value.”
Putting them to work
Kern Wyman has put his four boys – age 6 and under – to work in the yard cutting flowers and bundling them into bunches to sell at train stations and shopping centres for money. The kids then get to put their earned money towards toys and other items or into savings. Kern says his kids have not only learned about money, but also about the principles of business and customer service.
“They like it, too, although it’s not always easy,” he says. “They do all the customer engagement and selling themselves. The eldest in particular is taking away a lot of good lessons about money and how to make it and the value of things.”
Commonwealth Bank has developed several ways to begin teaching little ones about money. Kids can register for Coinland to play games as they learn about finance. The Dollarmites Club is another interactive space for youth savers to increase their knowledge and bank account balance. The Hit List is a virtual savings program that teaches older kids about managing money. For a full range of options centered on youth banking, visit the Youth & Students section on the Commonwealth Bank website.
How do you teach your kids about money?