Written by: Jeremy Shafer

This month our eldest child learned a classic preschool lesson.  It’s likely he’ll never forget it as long as he lives.  It’s also likely he’ll never use it as long as he lives.  What’s the lesson?  Stop Drop & Roll!

Don’t misunderstand me here. I’m grateful he’s learned the appropriate response to being on fire.  I just can’t help thinking there are everyday skills he won’t learn in school, like managing money.  I chose this example because it’s current to me and hopefully humorous.  I am fully aware that educating a child is the job of both school and family.  With that, here are five ways to teach kids to about money.

Let Them Hear About It

One of my son’s friends, a four year old, can name the entire roster for the Detroit Tigers.  Bet you can’t guess what his parents talk about all the time!  Money is involved in everyday life, so talk about it from time to time.  Talk about the purchases you make.  Let kids select items to buy.  Play games that require money decisions.  Download an app to engage them.  Whatever you say, don’t say nothing.

Let Them Earn It

I’m talking about honest work for honest money.  I personally don’t give allowance.  Others do and teach great lessons with it.  Either way, kids will learn that working is a way to earn money.  Later they can learn about investing – putting their money to work for them.

Help by Setting Boundaries

Now that they earned some money, teach them some proper boundaries.  Teach them the four things they can do with money: save, spend, give, or invest.    Here’s a neat piggy bank to reinforce the lesson.  Teach them that money is a tool.  Then teach them how to use it well. 

Let Them Manage It

Once you’ve established boundaries, back off and monitor.  I don’t tell my kids what to buy with their savings.  They make all purchase decisions.  No amount is too small for starting out – the amount is irrelevant.  The process of making money decisions is the important thing.

Help by Modeling

You’ve heard the old adage “Do as I say, not as I do!”  We all know it smacks of hypocrisy, but we use it to impart advice that we know is good but just haven’t worked up the courage to implement.  You will do your kids a great favor by modeling a healthy relationship with money.  You will do yourself a big favor, too!  It doesn’t have to be a big production to make a big difference, just take advantage of the opportunities you’re given.

Education is everyone’s job.  School will teach your kids what to do if they ever catch on fire.  You teach them what to do if they ever catch a dollar.

Next week… Adult Children & Money