As children, we were all taught some of the basic principles of saving. We surely had a piggy bank or an old milk pan to save the little coins that we had, either from some household chores, errands or just for being nice.
Those days are long gone, and some children today do not understand the importance and value of money –or is it that we are not training them to understand those basic principles? Teaching children to budget and save isn’t really an option – it should be a crucial life skill.
Financial literacy should be part of a political agenda and a national initiative. We must make sure the next generation is well-equipped and parents must set an example. Let me commend the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago on the recent initiative to educate children on this topic.
We currently live in an era of almost instant gratification, must-have-it attitudes and easy ways to purchase items with nothing down, no money upfront and even months before the first instalment begins.
Families may have good reasons why they fall into this trap, but the savings habit is an important one to help kids establish when they are young.
So how are we teaching our children the value of money and the negative effects of not saving for the rainy days and how to manage it? If we don’t, somebody else will, and we may not want to take that risk.
Teaching them about delayed gratification when it comes to money can help them guard against unnecessary spending and learn to establish control of their money.
The process starts from as early as pre-school and kindergarten. While the piggy bank is nice, it’s not visible to see what’s inside.
Kids today like visual; they want to see the money growing. Our currency today is quite bright in colour, and this will create an encouraging effect on them to see the money grow.
Set at least three glass jars: one for savings, one for spending and one for charity. Part of being a better saver means knowing where your money is going, so let them track their spending. This will be an eye-opening experience.
Based on their savings goal, once it’s reached, this can be then transferred to their bank account, and have them start again.
If every time you visit the supermarket, store, or restaurant you are only paying with plastic, as if its free money, they will notice, and questions will need to be answered and worse if spouses are arguing about money.
Set a better example and they will follow it when they get older. If you use your plastic, then teach them that it’s either money from your savings account debit card, or money that you must repay to the bank’s credit card – it’s not yours.
When they want something, have a discussion with them, not a lecture. How best can we buy what you want? How much did you save towards it? Have them put part from their spending jar and allow them to pay at the cashier for themselves. This will help them to understand and appreciate the value of money and how to rebuild their savings for future stuff.
Allow them to itemise and prioritise their ‘want list’. If possible, put the cost next to each item and let them know that if they want any item on the list, then they are giving up what they really wanted for something that is not that important, and they will have to rebuild their savings plan again.
Don’t just give them an allowance–something we are all guilty of. Allow them to earn the allowance. Have them do chores around the house; let them help you in the garden, then give them the allowance, maybe something extra if they really did a great job. They would then understand that when you work, you get paid, and the little extra earned can be set aside in one of the jars.
Teach them to give, as in giving you shall receive. Let them pick a charity, maybe something small from your church, work with them to complete it, do the budgeting, find out how much they are willing to contribute from their charity jar and the reason for doing this.
Even if it’s a family charity, let them contribute also. This will foster good charitable habits as they grow older.
You can also act as a creditor if needed. If there is a particular item that they want from their list, you can assist in funding it and allow them to repay you with interest. This will create the perfect mindset as it relates to larger borrowing in their later years, and the true difference between immediate or delayed gratification.
The idea is to instil proper money management from young, so as not to fall into the trap of living paycheque to paycheque.
“I give, not because I have, but because I know how it feels to not have.” Unknown.
Call me for more information on planning your financial future. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 620-1185.