Children certainly don’t come with an instruction manual. From the time they’re learning to crawl parents begin teaching their children about right and wrong, personal safety, manners and morals. Over time, children are taught about stranger-danger, healthy eating and personal accountability. Interestingly however, many Australian parents leave out one of the most important ‘survival skills’ their children will need into the future – how to take care of themselves financially.
Earning, saving and sharing
Teaching children about how to manage their personal finances from a young age will have a profound impact on their attitude to money in the future.
We certainly teach our children about spending money, but making this the only facet of money management they are exposed to is frought with danger. Exposing children to the emphasis of buying can come at the expense of other important money skills that children need to learn – earning, saving and sharing.
It’s more about character than coin
Giving children the skills to control their finances is not only beneficial in their financial wellbeing – it also contributes to the forming of their personality and other unique attributes. The lessons on self-control, conviction, resourcefulness, contentment and compassion are all valuable in shaping a well-rounded, socially aware and responsible person.
Do I look like an ATM?
In this age of online banking, and plastic, it’s difficult for children to understand the value of transactions because all they see is you giving a card to a salesperson and then being handed the goods.
Where to start?
The Government-sponsored Financial Literacy Board is piloting a new education program (you can visit the website, www.teaching.moneysmart.com.au) that will integrate the teaching of money management skills into English and maths classes in Australian primary schools. Whilst this is a positive initiative, the child’s attitude starts to form before they start their education, so there are some simple things you can do to put them on the right track.
Let your children watch you do online banking so they can see how you manage money each month to pay for recurrent and unexpected living expenses.
Encourage your children to play ‘shop’ at home.
Let them help put coins in the parking meter
Explain the reasoning behind your budget and how it helps the family to take holidays or go to the football.
You may want your children to earn their pocket money by doing age-appropriate things around the house, like watering the plants or setting the table. You can then have them save some of the money to create a savings routine from an early age.
For teenage children, you might raise the prospect of setting
up a trust in their name through which your child can invest some of their savings in a managed fund or shares. This can be a daunting task for a parent and it may be useful to talk to one of our financial advisers about the various ways this can be done.
Talk to your children about money and keep talking to them about it as they grow. The lessons learned will stay with them for life.