Beyond getting your child’s own savings started, teaching your children age appropriate lessons about handling money is important. It better equips them, and you, to accumulate and maintain a steady growth on investments, particularly if everyone is on the same page about the family’s long-term saving goals.
A good example is education. Though online education opportunities have become quite popular recently, school fees remain a reality, and they can really add up over time. Although COVID-19 brings up a lot of uncertainty, now is a great time to teach your kids some valuable financial lessons, so here are four healthy money habits to pass along.
Make money child friendly
As your children get older, explore ways to teach them ‘adult’ money lessons in practical and memorable ways. One way could be to pay them ‘performance bonuses’ for spotting opportunities that save money in the home and in their schooling. When you do annual uniform shopping and they find a cheaper deal on school shoes elsewhere, invest the difference into savings.
You might consider opening a tax-free savings account on behalf of your child, or a unit trust account if your investment horizon is a little shorter. A formal way to save can make your children cognisant of the cause you are saving towards, and aware that their efforts are actively making a difference. You can also mimic the discipline of saving by paying pocket money on a specific date each month. This demonstrates that money isn’t available on tap and things, just like their education, need to be planned and saved for.
Allow trial and error
Talk to your children about questions that they may have about money. By helping them understand what’s confusing them, it opens their mind to creative ways to work with it. Once your teenagers understand the concept of compound interest, the excitement and devotion to growing the initial amount might kick in.
Additionally, although the (weekly or monthly) pocket money you give them might be the same, their personal expenses will change. One month, your child might ask for an early withdrawal to buy a camera for photography class, and the month after, a book. By providing ‘statements’, your child will be less intimidated by personal financial planning and have a realistic idea of what it looks like to budget, review expenses and be conscious about using their money. More importantly, they will learn to plan ahead for what they need and want.
In this time, allow for mistakes so that they know not to panic when the environment or costs change. Intuition combined with your lessons are key to them navigating their newfound financial responsibility.
Check twice before clicking once
The newer generation is growing up with the internet, but it is never a bad idea to teach them to shop safely and wisely while online.
Begin by teaching your kids the difference between a credit and debit card and which one you will be allowing for the online buying responsibilities you might give them from time to time. Emphasise that transactions should only be made on trusted sites and to make it easier, provide a list of places where you will allow the card to be used. You can also suggest they place an item in their virtual shopping cart for a day or two before buying, as this could result in realising the item isn’t necessary to buy, or some retailers may even send a discount for that item, hoping it will conclude the sale.
By giving older children the occasional responsibility of doing their own stationery shopping (with your supervision) not only will they learn how to compare prices and stick to the budget, but they will also learn to become familiar with the cost of things (and how they can change over time). Hopefully, your child will learn that financial planning is based on needs first, then wants. Textbooks? Need. New PlayStation? Want.
Play the role of an adviser
Financial advisers are qualified professionals who commit to evaluating your current situation and help you build a realistic strategy toward reaching your ideal financial goals.
As your children gain more understanding, find out their financial goals. You want them to understand the role of a financial adviser in their personal financial planning journey when the time comes, but more importantly, to be honest with their adviser. You might consider including them in conversations you have with your adviser. Small lessons amount to big, well-informed decisions and as a parent, the ongoing lesson of being financially prepared is a gift that will reap many rewards in the future.
Ronald King, Head: Public Policy & Regulatory Affairs at PSG