Money and finance are complicated subjects, and even adults often struggle with things like credit card debt and calculating mortgage interest.
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The complicated nature of finance may be why so many parents are reluctant to talk to their kids about money. They may simply assume that young kids will not understand these complicated subjects, and they put off these important lessons until they are older.
Even so, there is no reason to let the complexities of the financial system stop you from talking to your kids. Even if your kids are not yet old enough for school, there are some basic lessons you can teach them about money and family finances.
These lessons do not have to be complicated, and parents will need to make them age-appropriate. But no matter how young your kids, there are always words of wisdom you can impart, behaviors you can model and lessons you can teach.
Here are five vital money lessons even the youngest children can understand.
The value and identification of coins and currency
To a young child, a nickel can seem more valuable than a dime. After all, it is bigger and seemingly more impressive. Even the youngest kids can learn to identify coins, and distinguishing currency is a great numbers lesson as well as good financial training.
How coupons work
Even in the digital age, clipping coupons is still a great way to save money on groceries. Parents can hand their young kids a pair of safety scissors and let them do the coupon clipping. When grocery day arrives, parents can hand off those coupons to their kids and teach some money-saving lessons.
The basics of how money works
Playing store is a great way for kids to learn the basics, and a great way for parents and kids to spend time together. Just grab a few common grocery items off the shelf or pantry, pick up a calculator and start teaching the kids about how money and shopping really work.
Giving is important
Even the youngest kids can understand the concept of charity, so get the children involved in your charitable giving. Hand the donation envelope to your kids and let them hand it over at church on Sunday. Give the kids a few coins for the Salvation Army kettle at Christmas. There are plenty of ways to get the kids involved and show them the power of giving to a worthy cause.
The ATM is not free money
It is easy for kids, especially young ones to view the ATM as free money. Mom and dad put their card in, and money falls out like magic. Talking to the kids about how those cards really work, and where the money actually comes from, is one of the most important things parents can do.
You might think your kids are too young to learn about finances, but they know more than you might realize. Your kids are watching when you shop, when you pay bills, when you take money out of the ATM and when you go to work. Every one of those daily activities is a teachable moment, and it is never too early to start teaching these important lessons.