It’s kind of ironic. I was really intentional about teaching our six sons how to handle money throughout their homeschool education. Then after son number six graduated, I got a job at this credit union. And wouldn’t you know, I get to work on a program that helps parents teach their kids about money.
Like so many of the important lessons we teach our kids, this one can’t be learned in a day. It takes incremental education. We introduce the key concepts of wise money management—earn, give, save, spend— when our kids are young, then reinforce them in practical ways as they get older. Here are three examples of how you can teach these concepts to your kids.
EARLY START: AGES 0-7
Earn: For younger kids, you may want to introduce the big ideas about money and having a good work ethic.
I think of the lessons of these early years as foundation stones. They give our kids reference points to look back on as they grow and learn, and they give us opportunities to creatively craft learning experiences.
- To learn about hard work, your kids can help you with small parts of bigger projects, like adding premeasured ingredients to baked goods.
- They can also have little jobs like filling the dog’s water bowl.
- To make the connection between work and money, I got my 3-year old son collecting glass bottles for recycling.
JUMP START: AGES 8-12
Give: This is an ideal time for your kids to learn how people live in less developed parts of the world.
You’re building on the foundation stone of generosity that you laid when the kids were younger. So it’s time to transition from a simple way of setting aside money for giving, like a separate jar, to opening a savings account. To make the lesson real-world, these funds might be invested in the lives of other children through an organization like Children’s Hunger Fund. Besides giving money, your kids can also volunteer in your community.
FLYING START: AGES 13-17
Save: This is when you build on the foundation stone of self-control that you set when the kids were younger. The long-term takeaway is to learn the value of patiently working toward something that’s more valuable than impulse purchases. This is a great time to introduce your kids to electronic banking and teach them how to manage online accounts.
- Now, instead of watching money accumulate in a jar, they can see it grow online, including the bonus of interest income.
- They can designate part of their savings for short-term needs like sports equipment, functions or trips.
- They can set longer-term goals for things like electronic equipment, a car or Christmas gifts.
Although I was intentional about teaching our boys how to handle money, there are things I wish I had known or done. I definitely would have introduced them to banking basics sooner. And if there had been resources to start them young like our credit union offers, I would have tapped into them quickly and often.
If you’re a parent looking for ideas on how to instill Godly money management behavior in your children, then check out Evangelical Christian Credit Union’s Start Young program. It’s amazing to see what happens when you start young.
About the Author
In 28 years of marriage, Rachel Soto and her husband David have welcomed six sons into their family. Those boys gave her 15 years of homeschool experience; she taught them through high school. With the boys off to college or on their own now, she returned to work at Evangelical Christian Credit Union (ECCU). When she’s not working, she enjoys cooking, reading, coffee dates with friends and even an occasional nap.