Parents wear many hats when it comes to their children. We are doctors, taxi drivers, coaches, psychologists, bad cop/good cop, etc. The point is that throughout the course of our parenting journey, we will be many things for our children, but perhaps one of the most important “jobs” that we have as parents is being a teacher for our kids.
Yes, I know we send our kids to school for a reason, but I’m not talking about being a teacher in the traditional sense. I’m referring to the kind of teacher that teaches children important life lessons and one of the most important life lessons we can teach our kids is how to manage their money properly.
There are so many problems that stem from the mismanagement of money including: depression, alcoholism, gambling addictions, malnutrition, divorce, abuse, violent crimes and so much more. I’m willing to bet that the above problems are issues that none of you want to see your children struggle with. I know I don’t. Therefore, doesn’t it make sense that we take the time to teach our children about money management and the importance of saving?
While money management is something that all teenagers need to know, we can start teaching our children the importance of saving at a young age. The key to teaching young children about saving money is to make it fun for them. Below are a few ways that you can make saving money fun for your children:
• Start a Silver Collection – I’m not quite sure what it is, but there this something magical about starting collections for children. When I was young I collected rocks, horse memorabilia, and all things Peanuts. My brother collected baseball, basketball and football cards. In fact, he had several thick binders full of these cards and I can remember him and his friends spending hours trading the cards amongst themselves to better their collections.
Starting a silver collection can be a fun way to get children interested in saving money. There is a huge market out there for silver bars and coins, making it easy for one to become a collector. Just visit www.apmex.com and you will see what I mean. They have bars and coins with all different kinds of designs on them and the 1 oz. bars/coins are currently selling for $20-$30 each. Help your children find ways to earn money, teach them how to save it and then when they have enough to purchase a silver coin, get online and help them pick out the one they want. You will be amazed at how much fun they will have with this and the best part is that while they are starting a collection, they are starting a collection that is worth something. If the economy collapses or they are ever in a bind financially, these little pieces of silver can help them tremendously.
• Open a Savings Account – I know, the idea of opening up a savings account with your child’s name on it can seem like it is a little much, but for your child having his/her very own savings account is a big deal. In fact, did you know that many banks are starting to provide incentives for parents to open up these savings accounts for their children? My bank, for example, has a treasure chest that they let the children pick a “prize” out of every time the make a deposit into their account. Sure, it’s only candy, but for my six year old, this candy is worth so much more than the money he is depositing…for now anyways. This definitely makes saving money fun for the kids.
• Let Them Spend the Money – In order for children to understand the importance of saving money, they have to understand why we save it. While they aren’t old enough to understand all the reasons adults save money (IRA/401k, financial security, mortgage payment, etc.), they are old enough to understand the concept of saving enough money to get something that they want.
For example, has your child tried to talk you into buying a game console, tablet, cell phone, or a really “cool” toy? Believe it or not, my six year old has made arguments for why his father and I should buy him all of the above items. While we don’t feel like he is old enough for a cell phone, the other items aren’t “off the table,” but we are not buying them for him. We have explained to him that if he wants one of these things that bad, then he will have to save his money for them. And, when he has enough money saved up, we will let him spend it.
While I don’t like to see my son spend his money on silly things (or things I think are silly), I understand that he will never understand the importance of saving money if I buy him everything he wants. Saving money will become fun to him when he learns that the more he saves the bigger “toys” he can buy. Therefore, don’t be afraid to let your children spend the money they’ve been working hard to save. Spending the money is the fun part for a child!
Learning how to manage money is a skill that all children need to learn. Sadly, not all parents feel the same, which is why we have so many people out there who are unable to provide financially for themselves and their families. I believe that if we make saving money fun for our children when they are little, then they will grow into money-conscience adults who know how to effectively manage their personal finances.
What are your thoughts? Do you have any additional suggestions for how parents can make saving money fun for their children?