Your children may not always look like they’re listening, but they’re certainly watching. That’s why it’s important to make sure your actions line up with what you say, especially when it comes to managing your money. Robin Taub, chartered accountant and author of A Parent’s Guide to Raising Money-Smart Kids, said the key to raising financially aware children is to lead by example. “The first step to teaching kids to be money smart is to be a good financial model. We want to be able to lead by example. Our kids are watching and learning from us and they are aware of both our positive and negative behavior around money,” said Taub. Are your actions lining up with your words? Here’s how to be a good financial role model for your children.
1. Shop responsibly
Show your child how to shop responsibly. Both of you can start by taking stock of what you already have so that unnecessary purchases aren’t made. Once you’re ready to shop, work together on creating a shopping list. Demonstrate how to search for sales and find coupons. Refrain from purchasing items that are not on the shopping list (unless it’s truly necessary) so that your child can understand the importance of exercising self-control at a store. Impulse spending is not only bad for your budget but also sets a bad example.
2. Take your child to work
Let your child see that you have to work for money. Demonstrate the importance of a strong work ethic and the value of contributing your talents in exchange for a paycheck. Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is a great opportunity to show your child what you do at work. This year, Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is held on April 28.
3. Budget together
Budgeting doesn’t have to be a solitary act. Instead of balancing your monthly budget alone, invite your child to watch you go through the process. Explain how to take stock of how much money is coming in and going out of the household for that month, and how you plan your spending so you don’t run out of money. This will help your child see that your pockets are not an endless source of cash. It takes careful planning and discipline to make sure you’re living at or below your means. If your child receives an allowance, this is an additional opportunity to show him or her how to budget and spend responsibly.
4. Pay bills together
Even something as mundane as paying bills can be a teachable moment. Show your child how to write a check and balance a check register. There are plenty of downloadable and printable check registers, like the one featured on personal finance site Wallet Hub. If you prefer, you can also keep track of your banking activity on an Excel spreadsheet. Also explain the importance of paying bills on time and in full and how late payments can impact your credit score.