Some children seem to understand and appreciate the value of money from a young age, while most kids – and adults – seem to have a hard time understanding and managing the day to day aspects. “With Generation Z – also known as Digital Natives – beginning to come of age, it’s time to combine tried and true financial wisdom with modern solutions to teach our children how to survive, and even thrive, in a world without cash.” – The Simple Dollar.

How can you teach your child to have a balanced view of money? When should you open your child’s first bank account? Should you invest in their financial future, and if so, how? Here are some ways to help your child learn:

1. THE CONCEPT OF MONEY

Depending on your child’s age and understanding, teach them the basics of money, one aspect at a time. Quality over quantity, your goal is to expose your children to the idea of money and how it applies in life. Try to avoid creating any stress around the issue, as too much stress or a lack of it is often learned at home and may not necessarily reflect a healthy degree of concern. Go at the speed of your child, moving on to the next concept when they have grasped the previous one.

Toddler Years | Once your children grasp numbers and counting, usually during the toddler years, you can introduce them to the general concept of money. Children of this age learn best through play, so make up songs, make it a game, avoid the tendency to get too serious.

  • Start with the coins, associating the images on the coins with the amounts and names.
  • Get them a fun piggy bank, in the shape of their favourite animal or their favourite colour.
  • Introduce them to the concept of earning money, rewarding a daily or weekly chore with a small amount of money.
  • Associate a level of pride with their savings, appreciating what they have over only wanting more.

Elementary School Age | By now, most children will understand the concept of money in general and mathematics. As you help them grow their knowledge of the financial world, remember the importance of setting a positive example. Don’t argue about money, face financial hardships with a positive and calm attitude and show appreciation for what you have instead of focusing on what you want to acquire. Dave Ramsey encourages, “Once they start making a little money, be sure you teach them about giving. They can pick a church, charity or even someone they know who needs a little help. Eventually, they’ll see how giving doesn’t just affect the people they give to, but the giver as well.”

  • Help them weigh the value of spending money. For example, if you use your money to buy this toy, you won’t have enough money to buy a new video game console.
  • Help them learn to avoid impulse buying. Encourage your child to sleep on it rather than buy it right away.
  • Help your child learn the valuable lesson of a hard-earned dollar. Assign different amounts earned according to the difficulty of the task or chore.

Teenagers | The teenage years provide ample opportunity to play pretend when it comes to managing money. Whether your child earns their money or gets an allowance, work out a specific amount per week or month and help them to balance it out in terms of earning, spending, and saving.

  • Help them create a personal budget. Get fun and fancy, using colour or even a spreadsheet or app. Use whatever strikes them as more enjoyable.
  • Prepare them for the costs of living by exposing them to the day to day rhythm of life. For example, have them do a small run of groceries to understand the individual cost of basics. List the cost of rent/mortgage, utilities and such on the fridge so that they can see how long showers, leaving the lights on and such translate into bills.
  • Help them discover small jobs that they can do to earn money. Mowing lawns, shovelling snow, and babysitting are all opportunities to learn the value of earning money. If they are of the hiring age, guide them in looking for work.

However you decide to approach educating your child about money, make sure you let your child lead the way. Childhood is the time for trial and error when it comes to money. Let them experience the consequences of an impulse buy or not saving up. If you start them early, you will have plenty of time to help them adjust their habits when necessary.

2. THE VALUE OF A BANK ACCOUNT

While piggy banks are fun for small savings and loose change, the value of banking should be learned early on. While the banking experience has significantly changed in the past decade, the simple habit of visiting a teller and receiving financial guidance is a valuable one. So when should you open a bank account for your child? Most banks suggest opening a bank account around school age. The choice is yours, but keep the following suggestions in mind.

Include Them | Whether or not you’ve already started saving for their future, your child should be present for the opening of their first transactional account. Making it all about them will impress the process all the more so.

Get Organized | Opening a first bank account is a fascinating time for a child, but can quickly lose its initial excitement without visual aids. Help your child decorate a binder and include their personal budget. Help your child keep account of their statements, identifying deposits, withdrawals and interest earned.

Get Online | The paper process is essential early on for learning and establishing good habits. The online process is vital for teaching your child to manage their finances in real life. If they have a device, help them download your financial institutions’ mobile app and learn to consult it regularly.

3. THE IMPORTANCE OF INVESTING

The idea of investments can carry a heavy, somewhat unstable connotation. Therefore, it is important to help your children learn the actual value of investments in preparation for adulthood. “Additionally, being well organized, especially in respect to financial information, will remove many of the fears that keep people from investing later in life–particularly the misconception that it is too complicated.” – Forbes.

Strike a Balance | Help your teenager see the wisdom in contributing to both a savings account and investment opportunities.

Get Advice | The practice of seeking financial help from your financial institution is a great habit to get into. While it shouldn’t be the only advice you consider, their branch will have a good understanding of their personal habits and are therefore in an ideal situation to provide them with advice.

Invest in Education | If you have set up an RESP for your children, include them in the journey. It’s an excellent example of how long term investments grow and the process.

Regardless of your approach, remember that it is more important that your child gets a grasp of day to day banking and the cost of living than anything else. Share what you know with them, like tips for saving money.

You can help your children get started by contributing to their first bank account. Consider reaching out to us for a small loan. 24Cash is a local business based in Canada that provides various lending options to support hardworking Canadians.