April 22, 2021
As you develop your own saving strategies, the benefits, security, and empowerment that come from doing so really become obvious. If you have the proximity to influence kids, whether your own kids or otherwise, how rewarding and impactful would it be to pass down these life skills? To give the gift of financial wisdom is really one that just keeps on giving! But passing down these skills is not a passive act; it requires some intentionality. Here are a few ideas.
Start at any age
You don’t have to wait until kids are “old enough” before opening up conversations about money. Young kids can begin to understand these concepts with simple coin illustrations or basic explanations. A benefit of introducing saving to them at a young age is that it grows with them- they don’t know a life without saving! If this value is ingrained in them at an early age, they will be able to incorporate it into their finances at every stage of life.
Establish the basics
That said, make sure to start small and establish the most basic concepts of saving before suggesting they actually put money away. We can forget that younger kids won’t grasp what a bank does (do they give back my money?!) without explanation and older kids will not be keen on the idea of not using every dollar they have. With proper explanation, your suggestions begin to sink in as values instead of feeling like rules.
Model a savings mentality
When coupled with intentional conversation, modeling a lifestyle of saving creates everyday context and relevance. When grocery shopping, point out when you are choosing to buy sale items, opting for off-brands, or using coupons.
If you are weighing a decision to spend a large amount of money (a car, home, family vacation), be open with your children (as age-appropriateness allows) about what financial considerations you are taking into account. Showing kids how you incorporate money-saving strategies into your everyday life adds dimension to their understanding of saving.
Make it tangible
Kids tend to learn visually in their earlier years. They are also literal thinkers. For these younger kids, turn money concepts into something they can see or touch, using physical dollars and coins rather than numbers written down. Show them how you take away a portion of the money to save, and that there are still plenty of coins left to spend. You could also consider creating a cause-and-effect association; perhaps when they do a chore, they immediately receive a small payment.
As they get older, kids can grasp more intangible concepts, such as delayed gratification or the satisfaction of earning money for hard work. Creating opportunities for them to walk through these experiences, such as earning an allowance or setting a savings goal, is a practical and meaningful way to influence their value of saving.
Whatever this journey may look like for you and the kids you influence, encouraging them to value saving money will always serve them well in the journey of life.
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