One is never too young or too old to learn about money management. In fact, some might say that developing good financial habits — such as knowing how to spend wisely and save money — starts from young. Here are some strategies for you to guide your child towards financial independence across the different stages of their lives.
Younger children (below 8 years old)
For this age group, the focus is likely to be on helping them understand the value of money. To do this, you can take your preschooler along for grocery shopping trips and let them hand the money over to the cashier, so they begin to understand how money works.
When they get older and have better mathematical skills, progress to letting them calculate the amount of money to handover to the cashier and count the change. Let them also try choosing which products to buy, so you can start a conversation on how different factors can affect price.
It’s also never too early to build the financial habit of saving. Give them a piggy bank, or a savings jar to fill over time, and when they’ve accumulated enough, transfer the money to a bank account and explain how this can enable their money to grow.
Tweens (9 to 12 years old)
Knowing how to budget is a big part of financial independence. By the time your child hits the tween ages, they’re ready to start simple budgeting. Let them have an allowance so they can learn to work with a fixed amount of money each week. If there’s a big ticket item they want, like a new mobile phone or bicycle, encourage them to chip in at least part of the money from this allowance, and advise them on how to budget and save the money.
Also, tempting as it may be to bail them out if they overspend, try not to — this will help them quickly grasp the difference between needs and wants, and the importance of sticking to a budget, which is key to good money management.
Teens (13 to 18 years old)
As your child gradually improves their money management, consider getting them a supplementary card, and having them pay off their own bills, so they get used to needing to do this in the future.
Of course, this added bit of spending power could make it more likely they overspend, so you have moments when you want to yell “money doesn’t grow on trees” at your teenager. So instead of saying it, show them — get them to find a part-time job! If they aren’t old enough to do that just yet, then set them up with extra chores and errands to run for them to earn some extra money.
Young adults (Past 18 years old)
When your child reaches young adulthood and joins the working world, they’re ready to start planning finances for the future. Set up a meeting with your trusted financial advisor, so your child can understand the policies available, the importance of different types of coverage, and how to choose one without overcommitting.
Depending on your child’s income, you could also consider asking them to chip in for household bills or pay a token sum for rent. If you don’t need the money, this can be stored in an account to contribute to their future home or wedding.