What kid doesn't love to go along with their parents to the bank? The tellers often give compliments and lollipops so there is little not to love. But for kids who think the only thing a bank is good for is free candy, there is much more parents should be doing to enforce important lessons. For parents who think young children cannot comprehend more than the free sucker, it's time you learned something new.
Even the Young Can Save
There are a lot of conflicting views on how old a child should be before learning about money, but the reality is even small kids can be taught valuable money lessons. Kids as young as five who are being introduced into the 'real world' of kindergarten have sponge-like brains and absorb all kinds of information from their parents, teachers, and peers. They can be taught the basic concepts of money with an emphasis of savings.
Kids of all ages get allowances, monetary gifts, and find couch cushion change — and they should be taught what to do with it. Financial experts recommend putting at least 10% of your income into savings. Kids can learn how to do the same thing and will likely take great joy in taking their own cash to the bank for a deposit. Establishing savings accounts for your children while they are still young can be an effective financial lesson that will carry on for a lifetime, and the younger you are when you begin saving, the more likely you are to reach the million dollar milestone as an adult.
Importance of Financial Consistency
Kids need routine and parents need to be consistent in what money lessons they are teaching. If you require your child to put 10% or all of their received money into their savings account, be sure you are consistent about taking them to the bank, reviewing their bank statements, and continuing to build on age-appropriate financial lessons.
Parents are the first financial teachers kids have. Even in elementary schools, high schools, and colleges across the nation, there are few personal finance lessons being taught, so it is up to families to set a precedent and establish a financial routine.
Be a Role Model
Don't expect your kids to be top-notch savers if you are constantly failing with your own personal finance management. If you expect your kids to earn their own spending money and deposit money into savings, you'll need to set the first example.
As kids grow older, they will often imitate the ways of their parents, especially where money is concerned. If you are not teaching any financial lessons, kids can grow into adults thinking that free money comes out of the ATM. It's up to parents to each them how the money withdrawn gets there in the first place.
School studies may not deal with personal finances directly, but parents can teach lessons associated with finance when helping kids do math lessons and when teaching personal responsibility lessons. Allow kids to accompany you to the bank to see you making deposits and take time to go over the basics of monthly bank statements and account registers so kids can see their saving progress. Parents will also need to pay attention to their own habits when it comes to saving more and sending less.
Research Ideal Accounts
One thing kids will not be able to do effectively at a young age is pick an appropriate bank account. Parents should do adequate research to find the right savings account for their kids. Using a service like MyBankTracker.com makes it easy to compare various savings accounts to find the one most suited to your needs. Most banks, both local and national, offer kid-specific savings accounts that have no deposit requirements and few fees. Parents can establish the initial account and then place some responsibility on their child for making good use of their piggy bank savings.
As kids grow older, parents should adapt personal finance lessons as necessary. Teaching kids about money is likely one of the more important life lessons that often falls to the wayside. When kids grow older and head out into the real world, many are ill-equipped to handle personal financial responsibilities and often get burden with debts before graduating college.
Parents can help their children avoid future financial crisis situations by starting their kids off in life with a bank account, ongoing money lessons, and being a good role model themselves. Just like personal finance responsibilities are the ongoing realities of life, so too should a parent's money lessons be to their child.