“To prevent financially ignorant, unprepared, vulnerable children being sent out in the world on their own, parents must be willing to invest time in their children to teach them how to become wise stewards of their resources.” -Philip Nortje
Parents love their kids and most would, if they could, buy them the world. In today’s economic climate, however, buying for your kids is often just not possible and can lead to trolley-time-tantrums: Parents trying to hush their screaming child is a common sight while shopping and may lead others to think that the child is spoilt.
Most often however, this is not the case. Children are children after all, and most lack the fundamental understanding of money, and that that yes, mom was actually right: Money does not grow on trees. This leaves anxious parents, eager to bring calm to a screaming shopping aisle, often giving in to their child anyway if it means fewer looks from fellow shoppers, and an afternoon of peace.
It’s all understandable, and yes, Mom and Dad, we empathise. As such, Kirsten Reynolds-Wood, Brand and Marketing Executive at GetBucks, has offered some valuable tips to help parents teach their kids the value of money. After all, financial rearing can never start too early and can leave a long-lasting legacy of good financial habits.
1. Teach the idea of ‘value’. Have fun doing it!
Helping young children understand that certain things require money to have and as such, hold value, is a vital step in the financial rearing process. If children are very young, use games to help them learn. Be creative and have some fun: Give them a money purse with a few coins and let them take it along to the shops. If they would like to buy something, count their coins with them and tell them whether they have enough to get what they want. If they do not, give them the option of something cheaper so they learn to understand that some things require more coins and other things less.
2. Teach the idea of ‘earning’. Rewards can help.
The simplest of chores should earn young children more coins for their purse. Picking up after themselves, doing kind things or even finishing their vegetables should earn them a coin or two. In so doing, children learn that doing good earns coins – and that coins themselves can be spent on rewards. Rewarding kids with coins and then allowing them to choose their own rewards with coins earned, is a fun way to teach them the bridge between earning, money, and the value of things. It is a simple concept that requires some effort but once it is learnt, it is invaluable knowledge for a financially packed future.
3. Teach the idea of ‘want’ versus ‘need’. Help them choose.
As children begin to age and the idea of money cements itself, help them consider the items they buy with their coins or real money -, depending on their age. As always, speak honestly about money. Have conversations about their choices and help them choose things that are wiser to own. For example, a metal toy car might be a better choice than a plastic one because it lasts longer. Similarly, stress that their pocket money is for things that they want and that you, Mom or Dad, will buy them what they need. That way they will begin to understand by category what is a “need” and what is a “want”, and how wise money choices can lead to better results.
4. Teach the idea of ‘saving’. There is no better lesson to learn.
All of the above neatly accumulates into the final piece of the puzzle. Teaching kids to save for a better or more expensive item is one of the most important financial lessons you can teach them. A child who willingly rejects the choice of instant gratification for a better item they can buy after saving for a while, is a child well on their way to becoming a fully –functional adult. As such, always encourage the idea of saving, but don’t force it. Always give them the option with a thoughtful smile, to help them think for themselves. For example, you can have this now – but if you wait and save, you can buy that instead.
Children are certainly complex and parents are brave to tackle all that complexity. The value of money, however, should be made simple to address and understand. As a parent, we acknowledge that you always try to do your best to empower your kids to be financially smart and turn those trolley-time-tantrums into budget-savvy kids. That is the best life-long gift you can get your child – and it’s free !