Remember the old adage, “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.” The wisdom of this statement is no less true when considering financial education for children. It seems like there will always be time to teach ones’ children how to handle money, but time passes quickly and they are soon out on their own often making financial mistakes that may take years to correct. Laura Shin wrote an article for Forbes.com on October 15, 2013 entitled “The 5 Most Important Money Lessons to Teach Your Kids.” She quoted Beth Kobliner “who spearheaded the creation of Money as You Grow, a program that offers money lessons for children.” Kobliner presented the following important age appropriate financial education lessons.
- Ages 3 – 5 “You may have to wait to buy something you want.” Suggested Application – Assign three jars the labels “Saving,” “Spending” and “Sharing.” Have children divide any money received equally between the three jars.
- Ages 6 – 10 “You need to make choices about how to spend money.” Suggested Application – Give a child this age $2 to purchase fruit at the store and ask them to determine the best choice for the money they have available.
- Ages 11 – 13 “The sooner you save, the faster your money can grow from compound interest.”Suggested Application – Describe compound interest. “If you set aside $100 every year beginning at age 14, you’d have $23,000 by age 65. If you wait until age 35, you will have $7,000.”
- Ages 14 – 18 “When comparing colleges, consider how much each school would cost.” Suggested Application – Begin comparing colleges as early as 9th grade. There are college scorecards online that can be helpful in making the best individual choice.
- Ages 19 and up Only use a credit card if you can pay off the balance each month. Suggested Application – Credit cards can be helpful to build credit and earn rewards, as well as for emergencies. But be careful not to carry any significant debt.
There are other age appropriate applications available in the article. It is never too late to start teaching children how to be financially healthy. Why not begin during April! It is the month that Credit Unions across the country celebrate Youth Savings. It is only $5 to open a new membership at CPM! Give the children in your circle of influence the gift that lasts a lifetime – financial education.