By Matthew Loux, faculty member at American Military University
Growing up I always had a job, whether it was working on the farm or bagging groceries. My parents taught me the value of money and how to save it. Our family had very little money, but it was a great childhood.
In the current economic times, it is even more important to teach kids how to save and budget for college, marriage, and emergencies. This should start at an early age. With technological advancements it is even easier to teach children about money. Here are some strategies that have worked for our family.
You can teach children a lot about money, even in the early years from ages three to eight. For example, our children received not only gifts, but gift cards and cash from relatives and friends for special events such as holidays and birthdays. We took our kids to the store and walked down the toy aisle with their money in hand. We would explain the prices of the toys which included taxes.
We selected different toy combinations that they could buy with the money they received and allowed them to make the choice. By allowing them to make decisions early, they learned the value of money and what items truly cost.
Middle and Early High School
As they grew up to about nine to 15 years of age, we created a chore chart and posted it on the fridge. If they completed the tasks for the week, they were given an allowance. If they did not do their tasks, they did not receive the money. The allowance was not a large sum, but it meant something to them so they worked for it. If they did more chores or tasks than required (without being told), they would get a bonus.
We continued to teach them about the prices of items and not living on credit. If they spent their allowance before the next week, then the money was gone. We tried different methods of saving such as the envelope and jar system, but they ended up with their own methods of saving for tithing, spending, and saving. The important aspect is to teach children to save first, then spend on what they need, and finally spend on what they want.
When my kids reached about 16, they got jobs to make money. My daughter rode her bike about a mile to work at a fast food establishment. When she got her first paycheck she was shocked. They took out taxes, Social Security, Medicare, etc. It was an eye opening experience for her.
We set it up so she would save 10 percent for tithing and 40 percent in her savings account for college and keep 50 percent to spend on what she wanted. This was a good balance so she had some money to spend. She was soon astounded at the size of her savings account.
My daughter saved enough to pay for junior college and her first semester of her Bachelor’s degree without debt. She still does not have a car and works several jobs during the summer. We still have our talks about financial planning and there have been issues along the way, but that is the best way to learn. We have shown her the future without a car payment, credit card loans, or student loans.
Into the Future
Learning about money throughout their lives, our children are better prepared for their financial future. If you take the time to teach children about the fundamentals of money, they can continue those practices into adulthood.
About the Author: Matt Loux has been in law enforcement for more than 20 years and has a background in fraud, criminal investigation, and hospital, school, and network security. Matt has researched and studied law enforcement and security best practices for the past 10 years.