As a father, you have an important role in your children’s lives. They look up to you, follow your example, and learn from you. One of the most important lessons you can teach your children is how to be careful and responsible with money. A Haven Life study recently found parents are concerned about their children’s financial future, and worry they will suffer. Thankfully, there are many ways you can teach your kids about money. Starting early, encouraging financial literacy, encouraging them to work, and teaching them to give to others, are four easy ways. There are other ways to teach your children about money as well.
You can help your children learn self-control, which will later lead them to be more responsible with their money. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, teaching your children to have self-control, plan ahead, and problem-solve in a creative manner will all help prepare them to build a strong financial foundation. By spending time playing with your children, and helping them to be creative, to learn to self-regulate, and to plan ahead, all of which can be done through daily activities (think of grocery shopping, interacting with other kids, and talking through problems), you will be helping to prepare them for more difficult or challenging financial decisions down the road.
Your children will learn best if you model what you want them to learn. Take them to the bank with you; explain how much things cost when you attend a baseball game or sign them up for an activity; show them bills if you are comfortable doing so. Allow them to ask questions, and if possible, make a game out of your financial lessons. There are several Kids Money Games available online.
Just starting the conversation with your children will help them prepare for the future. A study by the American Institute of CPAs found money is one of the lowest priorities that parents have when talking with their kids (behind good manners, good eating habits, good grades, the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and the risks of smoking). Your kids will learn about money somewhere, and if you don’t teach them by word and by example, they may learn lessons you don’t want them to learn. Some parents see money conversations as taboo, but you don’t have to share all of your financial information with your kids; just make sure you talk to them.
In addition to modeling smart practices for your kids, it’s important for them to learn for themselves. Encourage them to participate in safe money-making opportunities. Give them an allowance for completing chores, allow them to sell lemonade with you nearby, or mow neighbors’ yards. As they get older, encourage them to take on a part-time job. Then require that they save some of the money that they make, and explain the difference between wants and needs. It’s important that children learn that they must work for their money, and that earning money is rewarding.
It’s also important to encourage kids to give back to others. If you attend church, encourage your kids to tithe regularly. Ask your kids to help you pick out food for food pantries, or Christmas gifts for families in need. If possible, volunteer at an agency that can teach your kids values that you want them to learn. As important as talking to your kids about money is, showing them that not everyone has enough, and that it’s important to share, are extremely valuable lessons.
As a father, you have the added bonus of being special to your children already. That gives you the advantage when it comes to talking about money, because if you start talking to your kids about money early, they will learn about it from you, and not from someone else (or from a TV show.)
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