April is Youth Savings Month. Here’s how to celebrate!
April is Youth Savings Month, and what better time to remind you about the importance of teaching your kids to save money. Today, financial literacy is one of America’s biggest issues, so the sooner your children understand the how and why behind saving their hard earned pennies, the brighter their financial future.
Effectively communicating the importance of saving for a rainy day can be quite the challenge for parents, especially because stashing your cash isn’t especially fun. That’s the secret, though. Saving CAN be fun if you make it that way, and once your kids realize it was all a lesson, they’ll already understand its importance. Mission accomplished!
Here are some creative and practical ways to tap into savings fun and prepare your kids for a smart and responsible financial future:
Use games to incorporate financial learning. Play “store” and use Monopoly money to show how goods are exchanged for cash. Head to Publix or Kroger with your elementary school-aged children and have them match items and coupons that save money. Love going to garage sales? Give your child $5 to spend on whatever they wish. In time, you’ll see them contemplate their purchases instead of buying everything they see. Sometimes they might even choose to save their money instead of spending it.
Have a gamer? Visit Game Stop and encourage them to purchase pre-owned games instead of brand new video games. Help them find an item they’re looking for on eBay or Amazon where it might be less expensive. Consider giving your child the difference in cost to put in their piggy bank so they can actually see the savings.
Teach the value of hard work
The idea of working to earn money can also be taught early. Assign age-appropriate chores around the house. Help your children at first and gradually they’ll be able to take over the responsibility by themselves. Create a list of chores that earn a specific dollar amount so when your kids need extra money, they learn how to earn it. See, financial learning can be incorporated into almost any situation.
Schedule a field trip
Piggy banks may be the traditional symbol of saving money, but as kids get older, try using a digital coin counting bank. It automatically keeps track of each coin and displays a tally of their savings. Kids love it because they can actually see their money and watch it grow.
Soon they’ll be ready for their very own savings account. Head to your local credit union with your child and ask for a quick tour. Each time they make a deposit, your child can learn a little bit more about the banking system and ultimately the services available to them in the future.
In time, it’ll also open the doors to introduce the concepts of paying yourself first, discipline and patience in spending, needs versus wants, and how credit works.
Don’t let up in the teen years
In the middle school and high school years, teaching your child about earning and saving money gets a little more complex, but it can still be fun.
Take investing, for instance. Purchase a blue-chip stock with fictitious dollars and have them track the daily market fluctuations. How much money would they have lost or gained in three months, six months, and a year? Do the same with a penny stock and you can introduce the idea of risk and return.
Tap into their entrepreneurial skills
Your teen is likely babysitting, mowing lawns, dog sitting, or some other entrepreneurial activity to earn a few bucks. Encourage them to keep track of their earnings and brainstorm with them about how they can improve and expand their business.
What kind of babysitting services do they offer? Do they bring games to play, color with the kids, play outdoors, work on homework together, and make sure the house is picked up before parents arrive home? The combination of all these value-added services will lead to more customers.
Help them market their services. Whether through social media or simply creating a flyer to put in your neighborhood’s mailboxes, show them how to get the word out.
When they talk about their services, they need to communicate in detail. If they’re a pet sitter, they not only walk pups but also spend 30 minutes playing with them. They make sure there’s enough food and water, and that the animals get their daily exercise. People appreciate and will pay for their extra attention.
You can follow your entrepreneurial lessons with the need to assign a certain percentage of earnings to savings versus spending, and creating a budget. With a checking account and debit card, your high school kids will know how much money is in their account and will quickly learn to live within their means, especially if you stay strong and avoid rescuing them with an extra twenty too often. We know it’s hard, but it’s worth it in the end.
Anytime is a good time
Whether it’s across the kitchen table, on the way to a baseball game, shopping for school supplies, or tucking them in at night, there are an unlimited number of ways to work financial responsibility and savings into the conversation. Let’s get going. It’s never too early or too late to start teaching your kids about how they can create a more financially stable future.26