Protect Your Pocket Series - Teaching Children to Manage Money


Teaching Children to Manage Money

(originally published April 2009)

Consider this: the latest version of the classic board game Monopoly trades in cash for debit cards, but does it explain to children what overdraft charges are or how to maintain a register of transactions? What about the Barbie doll that comes equipped with her own credit card and cash register? When she swipes too many times, her balance resets without requiring any payment. What message does that send children about the reality of using debit and credit cards?

Establishing good money management habits and a solid understanding of financial concepts is important for Hoosiers of all ages. But it’s especially important for younger generations to understand how to manage money even at a young age, giving them a solid foundation for when they enter the “real world” later. Today’s youth are tomorrow’s spenders, savers and investors. It’s critical that we stay invested in their future and make financial literacy a focus of their education.

April is national Financial Literacy Month, highlighting the importance of establishing and maintaining healthy financial habits. Simply put, financial literacy is a basic understanding of personal finance. It includes concepts like budgeting, saving, investing, insurance, understanding how credit and debit cards work, retirement planning and much more.

Even in the face of an unstable economy, less than half of the states require personal finance education in high school. In Indiana, the General Assembly is considering legislation that would require personal finance to be taught in grades 6 through 12. Even with an increase in the standards, teaching children about personal finance can’t just happen in the classroom. Parents need to take a role in educating their children about money. If parents don’t talk to their children about it, who will?

Parents can’t afford to shy away from talking to their children about money. Parents should be realistic about their finances so children know what to expect when they get older and have their own money to manage. Here are some tips for how to get the conversation started:

  • When it comes time to pay your monthly bills, discuss with your children how much things cost and how you budget your income to pay those bills.
  • Explain the differences in paying with a check versus a debit or credit card.
  • Make the lesson real by giving children their own money to manage. Assign them chores or tasks and reward them with an allowance, then help them decide what to do with that allowance.
  • Consider using a Money Savvy Pig to demonstrate how to budget your money between the four main uses: saving, spending, donating and investing. Unlike traditional piggy banks that have just one slot for money, this bank, created by Money Savvy Generation, allows children to distribute their allowance between the four uses based on their wants and needs.

Most importantly, set an example for your children and be a positive role model for good money management skills. Children often learn by watching and emulating their parents’ behavior. Take a good look at your own spending, saving and investing practices and make a point to maintain healthy habits in your own life.

Related Information:

Money Savvy Pig

- Contact the Securities Division