10 ways to raise financially smart kids
Updated: Jan 14
Mothers notice dangers even before they can happen. The sharp corner of the table the toddler is running towards. The gust of wind that may cause cold. Equipping your child to stay safe is paramount to mothers. The one big thing mothers need to help their children with is teach them about money.
Money is omnipresent in children’s lives. It starts with the small-to-big amounts they get as babies; and grows to be with birthday money, pocket money, gift money. However, more important than the money that comes to them directly is the money they see you, the mother, handling – shopping, withdrawing from the ATM, paying bills, paying the house help, the festive tips you give to the driver, the guard et al.
They are imbibing money manners from you without your even realising it. So how about also showing them some money investing behaviour as well?
Just as we at Basis are getting the money conversation going with women, getting kids involved in money is equally important. It is when your little girl sees you setting up an elderly care fund for your parents that she may end up following in your footsteps when she is earning.
Your money goals – be it for starting your own business, be it a freedom fund to allow you to take that sabbatical you always wanted or be it the vacation fund they see fuelling their summer vacations – will become a guide map for your children to grow into financially mature and organised adults.
Money matters for your kids because one of the biggest reasons you need money is to be able to live the life you want. Research shows that more women remain in bad marriages because they were not in charge of their money and despite bringing in the money, had no control over it. With divorces on the rise, single-mother families are growing and money can make the difference in giving a woman options as opposed to having to make compromises.
If you set off on the wrong note with your kids, you run the risk of setting the wrong example for them. Kids will not do what you say, they will do what they see you do. Give your kids a head start and set them up to win with money at any age. The biggest disservice you can do to them is to keep them out of the loop in financial matters – let them know why you cannot get them that foreign vacation their best friend just went on or the fancy trolley bag for school that all the other kids have.
Here are some pointers I picked up from other moms:
1. Involve the children in monthly budget planning
This will make them aware of where the money goes; give them insight into emergency planning; help them see investments as a monthly activity; make them realise the cost of education.
2. Practise what you preach when it comes to spending
You just cannot tell a child that you will buy only one item for them on a mall trip and merrily go on to splurge with multiple buys at your favourite store. If they have a limit, so do you.
3. Set up a systematic process of investing money
Let them know that you have a goal for them – say something like higher education. So without telling them how much, make them aware that you are putting away some money for their higher education every month or every quarter. This will make them aware of the function of financial goal setting as well as organised investing plans.
4. Realise your own bad money habits
Often we exhibit wrong money behaviour without even realising it. Do we put our ego before money sense? Do we insulate our children from action-consequence when it comes to money? Do we reward sulks and tantrums with things just because ‘everyone has one’?
5. Organise yourself
Maintain a budget and compare your cash inflows and outflows. Are you missing payment deadlines? Are your cheques bouncing? Are you checking on your investments regularly? If your finances are in order, you are not only giving your children financial stability and security but also being a positive role model.
6. Do you spend today and repent tomorrow?
Parents who live life king size or queen size today – blowing through their money in one go – and then spend the rest of the time making do are sending totally negative signals to their children. You may indulge their every whim today, but if tomorrow you cannot meet even their basic needs, you are setting them up for disappointment. You may end up pushing them into a life pattern where, as grown-ups, they are spiralling between living beyond their means and being debt-ridden.
7. Avoid money fights
Money discussions with kids are one thing, but fighting about money in front of them is another. If they see money as a cause of friction between spouses, they may end up as adults who avoid the money discussion altogether. Money may cause them anxiety. They may grow up wanting to evade money responsibility.
8. Having positive open conversations
Discuss a cash flow crunch with children in a calm manner. Be honest. But also be reassuring – you don’t want to spook them. Help them make the connection between money and things it can buy or pay for – the home they are in, the school they study in, the extracurricular activities you pay for. Make them understand the difference between necessities and luxuries. Their education is a necessity but a meal at a fancy restaurant is a luxury, that maybe they need to do without till the cash flow is better.
9. The joy of giving
If you are charitable and offer financial help to others, you are showing your child that it is equally important to give back or pay it forward for a society to grow.
10. Making choices
If you are going to spend money, teach them how to get the most out of it. With X amount they can have either a big birthday bash or a day at an amusement park with a few close friends. Show them how to evaluate each situation – the pros and cons – and help them arrive at a considered decision. You are helping them develop a sense of value for every buck spent.
Want to help your child build a strong future with a great education? Invest in an education fund on the Basis app.