Are your kids finally reaching the age when they’re ready to start having money of their own? According to a 2014 T. Rowe Price survey, 42% of parents sometimes avoid discussing money with their youngsters. However, with a few kid-friendly activities to jumpstart the conversation, you’ll be looking forward to these talks. By the time school rolls around again, your little ones will be a step closer to becoming budgeting pros.
Here are some lessons and activities to get you started:
Ages 3-5: Learn about waiting
One of the hardest things about budgeting is the waiting. However, if you teach your children about being patient early on, they’ll be better prepared to budget later.
Teaching kids about waiting is as simple as taking them shopping with you. If the youngster wants something, like a snack or a toy, try telling her that she can either have it now, or wait a week and get two treats instead. By providing an incentive to wait, it will help her understand that patience can pay off.
Ages 6-7: Budget an allowance
Personal-finance expert Mary Hunt, author of ``Raising Financially Confident Kids,’’ recommends giving a child a weekly allowance starting at age 6. Kids that old have a better sense of how much things cost and more experience at being patient with money.
To really help your kids master the idea of budgeting, talk to them about splitting their money into three jars: one for saving, one for spending and one for giving. For a fun summer activity, help your kids decorate these jars with stickers and colored paper that show their spending, saving and giving goals. Seeing these pictures on their jars every day may keep them focused on sticking to their budgets.
Ages 8-12: Save for the future
By age 8, kids are ready for their own savings account, according to Janet Bodnar, a financial literacy expert and the author of ``Raising Money Smart Kids.’’ Because kids at this age can more easily understand how financial institutions like credit unions work, they’ll be more likely to save part of a weekly allowance.
Many credit unions have youth savings programs like CU Community Credit Union’s Kid’s Club, which gives prizes to youngsters who make deposits. When opening an account, encourage your children to ask questions about what features are included and how they can be used. This sort of dialog can help kids understand what it’s all about and get more interested in making deposits.
Ages 13-18: Putting needs first
If your teens are earning money from a summer job, it’s time to deepen their budgeting skills. One of the most important lessons a teen can take away from seasonal work is the importance of budgeting for needs before wants, according to Beth Kobliner, the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability member who spearheaded the White House’s Money As You Grow website. Help them learn by giving them new financial responsibilities.
For instance, encourage them to start paying for their own back-to-school needs, to assist them in managing their newfound spending power. Have them look for good deals and coupons to save on those items and keep their spending in check. This will help your children develop frugal habits and see the benefit of having money left over that can be saved or spent on entertainment. By the time the school bells start ringing again, your kids will have some fundamental lessons under their belts and a better feel for setting and managing a budget.
As your children grow older, it’s always good to review budgeting basics and to reinforce healthy personal finance habits. It can be a life-long learning process, even for pros.
Claire Davidson, NerdWallet