Mississippi Money: Money Lessons for Every Birthday!
Birthdays are important milestones in your child’s development. A birthday may bring on an allowance, a bigger birthday check, a first job or just more expensive taste. Make sure that their growing piggy banks translate into growing understanding and responsibility in the financial world.
Before age 5, concepts like budgeting, compound interest and Modern Monetary Theory may be a little abstract. Stick with everyone’s first money lesson – it’s shiny and you can count with it. Don’t let your youngest one eat the money, but adding and subtracting turn into watching money grow in a glass jar.
Around age 5 children will connect money to the outside world. They have seen you spend money and they have probably wanted something that costs money. It may be time to introduce them to the three money jars: spend, save and give. By spending, they learn why we have money. By saving, they learn how the world changes as they have more money than before. Teaching your children to give will start a lifetime of improving the world around them.
Ages 6-9 will find your children exchanging currency for goods and services, and maybe even the other way around! Younger children can be responsible for small amounts of money, and as they age, they can participate in decisions making while you spend your money.
From age 9-12, your children will learn how the world works from a financial perspective. They can make decisions and understand the tradeoff between spending money now and having more, and doing more with it, later. Keep encouraging them to save and share some of their gifts, allowances or “paychecks.” It might also be time to move them from jars to bank accounts.
Young teenagers should start to understand the cost of the real world. Looking at car ads, homes for sale and salary lists will help them understand what the world has in store for them. None of these are things that can be obtained overnight. Hard work and a slight understanding of the global financial system can help make their dreams come true. Let them borrow small amounts from you – maybe enough for a movie ticket on Friday night, even though their allowance or paid chores aren’t until Saturday. Make sure they pay you back.
By age 16, your financially savvy child may think the world is out to get them, but can take comfort in the cold logic of finance. If they work, they earn money. If they have money, they can spend it. The responsibility to work hard and watch out for their money is a huge lesson that they cannot get just from reading a textbook about the Federal Reserve, or Keynesian Economics.
Money surrounds everything that we do as adults. Ultimately, financial lessons aren’t just helping your child understand how to accumulate money, but how to interact with the world.