Dialing a rotary phone. Using an ice cube tray. Reading a paper map. Some things we used to do every day are now a complete mystery to our kids. Progress can be a double-edged sword.
In my day, banking at the ATM was a game changer. I also remember the way we used to pay off student loans or make car payments: Mail in your paper check each month, along with the appropriate month’s voucher, from the coupon book. Here’s a generational challenge: Would your kids be able to fill out a deposit slip, write a paper check, or address an envelope? (I can hear it now, “Where does the subject line go?”) Online automation is definitely welcome. But we may be losing out on teachable moments with our kids about finances, budgeting, and saving.
Why talking about money at home is important
The truth is, many adults find it difficult to make good financial decisions. Can they refrain from giving in to irresistible sales pitches? Do they make and stick to budgets? How do they manage when they have to choose between necessities? As our kids see us manage, or struggle with, personal finances, bringing them into the conversation will help them better understand how good decisions are made.
Here are few old fashioned and modern ideas for creating those teachable moments with kids of all ages:
- Open a bank account in their name: Make it an event. Bring them with you to the bank to open the account. Encourage regular deposits, and show them the statements so they can see how interest works.
- Turn shopping trips into lessons about money: When they tag along at the store, let them do a little comparison shopping, use coupons, and understand what it means to buy name brand or generic.
- Show them your paycheck: Walk them through earnings and withholdings. Show them how taxes and health insurance work.
- Show them the receipts: Take those slips of paper out of your wallet and tack them to the kitchen cork board, for example. It’s a terrific visual reminder that the family budget gets smaller every time another piece of paper appears.
- Put an app on their phone: There are a number of helpful apps that teach money management either through simulation, such as Practice Bank or through actual transactions, like GoHenry. There are even piggy bank apps like RoosterMoney Allowance and Chore Tracker, which helps keep track of chores and the allowance earned from completing them.
Whether or not you have a formal sit-down lesson about money, the first place we learn about it is in our family. No doubt, we all talk in front of our kids about shopping, bill paying, and planning for future purchases. Have questions on how to bring up the conversation with your children? Brigade Bookkeeping can help!