Tips to Help You Teach Your Children Financial Literacy

Jai Rogers, the vice president for Business and Community Development for Delta Community Credit Union, oversees a team that manages the credit union's Financial Education Center. She said financial literacy is an easy term to define - but a more difficult one to put into practice.

"Financial literacy is simply the act of learning how money works and how to manage finances in a responsible manner," Rogers said. "Many people never learned this important information before receiving their first credit card, car loan or moving into their first apartment. "

She said most children unconsciously look to the adults in their lives to learn financial concepts.

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"Parents are typically the first people who will explain the value of money to children," Rogers said. "Whether it's through a weekly allowance, saving birthday and Christmas money in a piggy bank or helping them open a checking account after kids start their first job, parents significantly influence how their children will manage their finances throughout life."

Roger also said most credit unions have programs geared toward financial literacy for children and staff members who are happy to help parents equip kids for their financial futures.

"We often hear the old adage, 'you're never too young to start saving,' but many people do not put it into practice," she said. "We want to help change this behavior."

Tips to teaching children financial literacy:

 ·         Set an example. Kids glimpse financial concepts for the first time through the adults in their lives. Children who consistently see their parents pay the bills on time and keep up a budget are more likely to adopt those practices in their own lives. Parents who have made financial mistakes should also share the experience with their children. That knowledge can equip kids to avoid the same mistakes with their money in the future.

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·         Make savings a tangible concept. Encourage younger kids to collect spare change in a clear jar or container so they can see their savings grow. Each time the kids want a small treat, parents can offer to put the money they would have used to buy the treat into the "savings jar," instead. Once the jar is full, children can count the money and use the funds to purchase an extra-special treat. That way, they'll associate a sense of excitement with savings - they'll understand that delaying gratification can lead to a greater payoff down the road. Parents of teens can apply the same concepts to their adolescent's first savings account. They can be encouraged to delay gratification to save for something larger.

·         Have kids learn with their own money. Kids will learn the value of a dollar better if the dollar is their own. Younger children who are paid a small allowance for chores they complete around the house will learn the concept of working for money. Kids can then begin to spend their own money on some of the things they want. They'll begin to appreciate what these items actually cost and will be more open to lessons about price comparison. Likewise, teenagers should be encouraged to get a job, even if it's a part-time gig on weekends or vacations.

 Have your teenager get a summer job such as being a lifeguard or camp counselor to earn some of their own money.

Have your teenager get a summer job such as being a lifeguard or camp counselor to earn some of their own money.

·         Get kids familiar with banking. Parents can make a trip to their financial institution an exciting event for younger kids. Let them in on the process - maybe even let them press the buttons on the ATM or help to fill out a deposit slip. They'll feel included in adult chores and won't feel intimidated by banking later in their lives. Pre-teens can open their own checking accounts and become familiar with handling checks and debit cards.

·         Get help. There are plenty of resources out there for parents feeling mystified about their children's financial education. Organizations like the JumpStart Coalition publish libraries of financial education resources on their websites. Many credit unions also offer programs geared toward fostering financial literacy in kids and teens.

To learn more about how a credit union can help you budget for monthly expenses, visit www.aSmarterChoice.org and become a member at POECU!

Rachel Morris