Are you teaching your kids and pre-teens about money?

As parents of young children and pre-teens, your days are probably busy with work and school. Evenings and weekends are filled with homework, extra-curriculars and hopefully some R&R. So it’s no wonder many parents feel like they don’t have time to teach their kids about money.

Lead by example

But just because you’re not talking about it, doesn’t mean that your kids aren’t learning from you and the way you behave around money. After all, you are their most important role model in all things, including money. So try to get your own financial house in order so you can lead by example.

Look for teachable moments

Finding the time to talk about money becomes easier when you look for “teachable moments”, opportunities to build money lessons into your daily lives. These will crop up naturally, for example grocery shopping: show your kids how to comparison shop, let them pay the bill with cash, count the change and get a receipt, or if you’re paying with debit or credit, explain how each of these plastic cards work. Another teachable moment is withdrawing cash from the ABM. Younger children may think that cash magically spits out of a wall, so it’s important to explain that before you can take cash out, you have to first put it in by earning it.

Don’t make money talk taboo

Try not to make money a taboo topic at home, even if your kids ask uncomfortable questions like “How much money do you make?”, “Are we rich?” or “How much is our mortgage?” Your kids deserve an honest answer but only share as much detail as you’re comfortable with. These discussions can take place by dealing with general concepts, like living within your means, the importance of saving for a goal, or budgeting, rather than getting into specifics about your salary or mortgage balance.

Share age appropriate information

The information you share with your kids should be age appropriate, taking into account their age and maturity and stressing confidentiality. After all, these are private family matters and not something you want them sharing on social media!

Reinforce what they’re learning in school

Since 2011, financial literacy has been integrated into the curriculum in Ontario from grades 4 – 12 and beginning in 2018, it will be taught in the grade 10 careers course (where it is currently being piloted). Ask your kids what they’re learning in class about money and build upon it at home.

Start early and lay the foundation

Try not to wait until your kids are teens to have the first money talk. Rather, start early and lay the foundation. Let them make mistakes with small amounts of money when they’re young and the stakes are low. Let them learn early that money is a finite resource – when it’s gone, it’s gone!

Start with the basics

First you have to earn money, then you can decide how to save, spend, donate and invest it. Even young children have the opportunity to earn money whether from gifts for holidays and birthdays, or visits from the tooth fairy. Pre-teens can do odd jobs like babysitting to earn money. And of course, there’s allowance, whether given as payment for chores, a money management tool, or both.

Kids around 8 to 12 are not too young to open a youth account to save money, and some will be ready for the responsibility of a debit card. They will also think longer and harder about spending their own money, especially if they’ve worked for it, then they will about spending yours.

Learn together

Teaching your kids about money may seem hard, especially if you feel you lack some of the knowledge yourself. But as the old saying goes, if you want to learn something, try teaching it. You and your children can learn together!