One of the greatest lessons you can pass on to your children is teaching them how to budget, save and spend wisely. After all, being financially astute is very important to navigating through life. Grounding your children in some basic money values concepts is a good place to start.
Consider using these five points as the basis for your conversation:
1. Money isn’t free – you have to earn it
Many of us grew up with the saying, “money doesn’t grow on trees,” meaning that we have to find ways to earn money in order to be able to spend money. Helping children understand the value of hard work can be one of the most important lessons they will learn. Most people who succeed financially put in the work to make it happen.
2. Take money seriously
Money is something that should be handled carefully, not thoughtlessly. It’s important to teach your kids to be wise about their purchases. Whether that means not spending too much on an electronic gadget, a fancy drink at the local coffee shop or continually buying trendy toys, the value of their hard-earned dollars should be appreciated.
3. Saving money builds a better future
It is easy for young people to get excited about having money in their wallet and coming up with ways to spend it (adults can be the same way). It’s important to demonstrate how saving for a particular goal can result in a big payoff in the long run. Help your kids find a specific spending goal and encourage them to set aside money to meet that goal. Over time, this may translate into bigger things, like saving for college.
4. Don’t spend what you don’t have
This lesson is becoming more important in today’s society where credit is easily obtained. Help your children understand how to live within their budget, and the long-term financial benefits of doing so. Discuss when it may be acceptable to take on debt, such as if they are purchasing a house or making payments on a car. Teach them how to calculate payments that are well within their grasp, so your kids remain in control of their debt in the future.
5. Time is on your side
As children grow older and you begin to talk to them about investing, emphasize the biggest financial advantage they have – time. The sooner they can begin setting money aside for a larger goal such as a wedding, retirement or a first home, the more their money can work for them. Talk about the benefits of saving on a regular basis, even if it means making a few adjustments to their current lifestyle.
These points can help your children set a solid foundation for their financial future. If you’ve ever regretted a financial decision or purchase in the past, your kids can learn from that too – especially if the situation helped you manage your money better today. Also, keep in mind that one of the best ways to make financial lessons stick is to live by them yourself.
Craig W. Mullenbrock holds the professional designation of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™ practitioner (CFP®). He is a Financial Advisor and franchise owner of Mullenbrock & Associates-a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. His practice specializes in fee-based financial planning and asset management strategies and has been practicing for over 30 years. The office is located at 228 West Ash St., Piqua. (937) 773-8500. Website: www.mullenbrockassociates.com.