Back-to-school: how to talk with children about money
Updated: May 20
A new school year is starting - a new chapter in the life of your kid is beginning. Most likely you have bought all the school supplies well in time, you have checked the schedule of the school bus, and you prepared the lunch for the first day of school. So your child will be well prepared for this important day.
BUT: Did you ever discuss with your child about money? Often this is a topic which is avoided or parents just assume that their children learn how to handle money only by the example of the parents and/or they will learn in school about it. Far better, however, is having regular and age-appropriate discussions about money between parents and children. Step-by-step children can grow and are able getting more responsibility and freedom also in this aspect of life. By doing so, you give your children a save environment with the ability to make (small) mistakes and learn of them - by this they can avoid making more costly mistake later in life.
Most important things to keep in mind for such discussions:
Stay age-appropriate: there is no point explaining a bank account to small toddler, but a teenager should have one
Get your child some allowance: the amount of the allowance is not the most important thing, give an amount which is not hurting your family budget at all. Important is that your child gets some money which they can spend in a way the define by themselves
Increase the responsibility once your child is able to handle the current level of freedom. This is very individual, so do not take age-based guidelines, but listen and watch YOUR child.
Make your child save money for long-term goals and keep a budget for their spending
Share your own attitude towards money with your child: explain how you make decisions about spending, give them some idea about the cost of general items like utilities and groceries. Also important: do not be shy sharing your own spending mistakes with your child, this opens te door for trustful discussions and give the possibility to learn.
I collected several good resources which you can use as a guideline and as material when educating your kids about money:
These two pages give a compacted overview of suitable steps for different age groups of children: https://www.smartaboutmoney.org/Topics/Family-and-Finances/Kids-and-Money/Teach-Kids-the-Value-of-Money and https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2013/10/15/the-5-most-important-money-lessons-to-teach-your-kids/#41a4ef6d6826
The FDIC (federal deposit insurance corporation) has excellent material online for those who want to teach there children in more detail about daily money management. It allows parents going in more depth with topics without opening their own books in too much detail: it contains examples about more complex topics like how to read a payslip and taxation. There are different courses for different age ranges, from PreK to 12th grade.