I’m sure you’ve heard many mums and dads use the phrase, “time flies when you’re having fun.” It’s a statement often used to describe how quickly our little ones seem to sprout up before our very eyes. This definitely rings true with me.
Being a mum of 3 boys is one of the most rewarding and challenging jobs in the world. I’m sure you’ll agree that, when you’re nurturing your kids through every milestone of their little lives, it’s difficult to comprehend that one day they will fly the nest! Even though at times you might find yourself wishing that this would happen sooner rather than later, you wouldn’t change them for the world.
As mums and dads, it’s our job to teach our little ones the ways of the world and prepare them for adulthood. From learning what is socially right and wrong, teaching them key learning and social skills, and even introducing fun-based activities that introduce your children to money and other financial matters.
Yes, I did say introduce your little ones to the concept of money, bank accounts and even the importance of money – it’s never too soon. This may seem bizarre but the earlier you factor in the importance of money into shaping their everyday behaviours, the better chance they will have of gaining financial stability when they are older.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that you lecture your 5 year old on the importance of their credit rating, but a good financial knowledge needs to be instilled from an early age in order to avoid problems in the future.
There are plenty of fun and engaging money orientated activities that you can introduce to your children during their early years, which are both simple and effective for teaching kids about money. For example, why not introduce real like scenarios such as paying for your shopping, paying for a bill in a restaurant and buying a toy at a toyshop into playtime at home? This subliminal approach to teaching children the value of money will help them to understand that everything comes at a cost. Maybe even help them count out the money they need to pay for these items.
It’s often hard to gauge when it is the most appropriate time to introduce your children to bank accounts, cash points and debit/credit cards. It’s important that they understand where money comes from and that it doesn’t just appear miraculously out of thin air (if only that were the case!).
When you’re out and about, maybe spark a conversation when you’re visiting the bank, a cash point or even pulling out your card to make a payment. Again, introducing real life situations into your children’s everyday play such as visiting the bank, and encouraging role play, will help to familiarise them financial matters.
Almost a teenager
These are the years when it is a little more difficult to introduce play based activities into your kid’s lives, but there are still lots you can be doing with them to encourage them to adopt a healthy approach to handling their own money.
This is often a time, when your kids will start to take a strong interest in clothes, looking good, the latest gadgets and trainers… you thought they were full of wants when they were little ones, wait until they are on the cusp of becoming a teenager!
With you pre-teens having long lists of things they want (or should I say ‘absolutely need and can not possibly live without!), this is a good time to start introducing the concept of credit and how to use it responsibly.
You could even bring up your own credit report online, using a service such as Experian CreditExpert, and talk them through it in terms of what could potentially impact upon their potential of being approved for credit. I know many parents who have did this, and it’s something that I will certainly be doing with my 3 boys when they grown up.
With this in mind, it’s a great time to give your kids their own allowance to manage in the form of pocket money, so if they want something special, they will have to save for it! That’s life!
This is also a natural time to open their own bank account or savings account, encouraging them to put their money into a bank account will encourage them to adopt good money habits for life.
These are the years when it is paramount that you start to teach and enforce the importance of managing your finances. They might not like it, especially if you restrict their allowance to a set amount each week, but it’s crucial that the seeds that will pave the way for a successful financial future are firmly planted during these years.
Start introducing your teens to the importance of saving for high value purchases such as cars, houses even holidays in the future. It’s also vital that they understand the benefits and consequences of lending, and how ultimately, the decisions they make now will affect their futures… it sounds very dramatic but you’ll be amazed at how many teenagers reach the age of 18 with no knowledge of financial matters at all.
If you haven’t already done so, this is a good time to introduce your teenager to their credit report in order to ensure that they have a thorough understanding of how it can affect their opportunities in the future, as well as protecting them against fraud and identity theft. I check my credit report using Experian CreditExpert, so that might be a really good place to start!