It is so important that we make sure that our children have a good understanding of money and how it works. This will enable them to make the right decisions when they are older. It is all too easy to assume that they will learn this at high school, that they can just copy you or that they will just learn as they go along. However, many people find that there in situations where they are struggling with debt or they are completely scared by borrowing and as a result they are not making the most of the financial opportunities available to them. There are therefore a number of things that children should learn so that they make the most of their money.
- Money maths – when they are small they need to get a grasp of money maths. So while they are learning to count, it is also important to show them coins and get them understanding the values of coins and taking them away from each other so they can calculate the change they might get for certain purchases. Seeing physical coins and bills is great as we often become detached from these once we start using charge cards and credit cards.
- Importance of saving – children can often be given money, whether this is pocket money or gifts they can accumulate quite a bit. It is good to open up a savings account for them and encourage them to put some money in it. Some parents like to adopt a save half and spend half habit where the children are allowed to save some and can spend the rest. Some prefer them to save all of it or to use it to save up so that they can afford certain items that they want. Also teaching them about interest and how much money they can make by leaving the money in a savings account can be important as well.
- Earning money and household budget – as they get older it is important for them to start to be aware of how much money you pay out for things. As they are saving up their money they might start to feel like they are well-off. However, if they understand how much things cost, it might help them to realise how much they have to save or how careful they will need to be with their money when they are older. Show them what you have to pay for each month and how much everything costs and explain how you manage your money to make sure that there is enough. If you do have financial difficulties then it is good to explain this to them and show them where you feel you made mistakes so that they can learn from it.
- Good and bad debt – It is really important to have a frank discussion about debt. There are so many types of debt and explaining about the different types of loans and what they might be used for can be really handy. Also explain about the differences between good and bad debt. Explain that good debt can help you to better yourself and improve yourself and is good as long as you find the best value for money when selecting a lender and ensure you can repay it. However, if you take on debt you cannot afford, which is expensive and is not paying for useful things then this is when you can get into trouble with it. Being aware of how debt works means that they will be able to make good decisions when they are older and choosing whether to take out a loan and between loans.
If you feel that you do not know enough, then start with the basics. Then you can work together with them learning about things that perhaps you were never taught. Often, we are left to muddle through and learn financial things as we go along. Although learning from our mistakes can be handy in some cases, it can mean that we make expensive mistakes. Learning when you are younger and avoiding this can be much better and so keeping that conversation going and talking about money in more sophisticated ways as they get older should help them to keep learning and understanding. There are websites and books that you can use as they get older which should help them to understand more and may even help you with your understanding.
It can be understandable that some parents may not feel they want to share this information with their children. They may feel they do not look after their money well and they do not want their children to do the same. However, it is a good opportunity to show them what can happen if you do not stay in control of your money and if you not budget and you could always get them to help you to start budgeting and sort out your problems. They might even be able to encourage you and they would understand why they may not be able to have everything they want.