It’s Money Week, so we asked a couple of financial education experts what lessons parents should, and shouldn’t, be teaching their kids about money.
Our second expert is Tom Hartmann, Sorted’s resident blogger.
Tom was recently surprised by new research that shows that children form their approaches to money by the early age of 7. But if the children in your life are above that tender age, how can you find ways to relate to the money personality they've already developed?
My Money Style is a newly developed online tool for tweens, based on their personalities and the values they have. For each money style, there are also pointers for parents and teachers on how to interact with your kind of kid. Perfect for Money Week.
Here are his Do’s and Don’t’s for teaching your kids about money.
Show them how money is a tool
Piggy banks are out. All the kids’ money stays in the same place, you can’t see whether it’s growing or count how much you’ve got, and it ends up sitting there doing nothing until you break it open.
Jars are in!
You can use different ones for saving, spending, giving and growing (an entrepreneurial or mini investment fund) – and show the kids how money is a tool they can use for both their needs and wants.
Keep them up with the Joneses
There’s a fair bit of keeping up with the Joneses for kids – some because of peer pressure, some because of parents. Whatever the reason, time and time again those Joneses make us shell out more money than we plan to.
The kids can end up being extensions of ourselves, and that’s not easy to let go of. It’s also one of life’s important money lessons – you don’t need to spend on something just because everyone else is.
Give them the responsibility
The goal of giving pocket money – besides them getting familiar with counting coins and learning how to squirrel it away – is to give them as much responsibility as possible.
Instead of parents buying them treats, for example, now they can make choices for themselves. The more they do the better.
Buy everything for them
Studies show that when the kids whinge about how bored they are, the best response isn’t to buy something for them, but rather encourage them to invent it themselves.
Many times they can be re-routed to more creative endeavours. Especially with the little ones, balloons and a bit of glitter may be all you need.
Have them invoice you
Pocket money only goes so far. It never stretches far enough for them and usually remains the same no matter how many chores the kids do around the house.
Instead, if you set down a list of jobs around the house and agree what each is worth, the kids have a way of making more money when they want to.
One happy result of doing this is that nagging levels plunge at home. If no jobs get done, no money gets paid – no problem!
Let them think that a credit limit is their money
If they start to go into debt when they’re older, they will need to learn to manage it. As their credit limit rises, here’s one thing they need to hear: “This. Is. Not. Your. Money.”
It’s really only how much they can borrow – can they really see themselves repaying that much? It may be one of the most valuable things they ever learn about how money works.
Together with the team at the Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income, Tom Hartmann leads the development of interactive tools and content that lets us make informed financial choices. The Commission is the home of financial literacy – it’s the agency that built Sorted, a trusted, independent brand to help Kiwis end up on the winning side of their decisions.
With an editing, writing and financial services background, Tom has also lent his voice as Sorted’s resident blogger. Leveraging learnings from behavioural economics, he’s regularly shed light on ways to establish positive money habits and improve our lives financially.