4 Action steps to teach kids financial literacy

Contributed By Susan Michel, EO New Jersey member and founder and CEO of Glen Eagle Advisors, which provides investment management and financial planning advice.

Raising kids in an entrepreneurial family comes with challenges. You want to be a responsible parent and raise financially literate children, but where do you start?

April is National Financial Literacy Month, the perfect time to focus on the importance of teaching children about money. Whether intentionally or not, each of our unique relationships with money shapes our children’s relationship with money. How we acquire, use and manage our money are largely influenced by the information we received from our parents during childhood.

With the current pandemic, many of us are dealing with having our children at home and the continued challenges that go along with virtual learning. There are many creative and engaging ways to teach life lessons outside of the classroom―even if you’re not a certified teacher!

While many parents understand the value in teaching their kids about money, they’re often unsure where or how to start. Here are four action steps you can take now to teach your children about money:

  1. Demonstrate and demystify the relationship between work and money: You can do this by including kids in family budget discussions. Meal times are a great time to talk to kids about money. If you are planning a family vacation, for example, have them research how much items cost. They can look up airline flights, car rental rates, hotel options and local activities that fit within your vacation budget.
  2. Open a savings account with your child: A perfect opportunity to teach children about budgeting and saving is when they receive money from special events or birthdays. Consider taking your child with you to the bank to open the account or having them help make online deposits. You can have them split the received money into thirds: a third can be used on themselves, a third given to a charity, and a third put into a bank account.
  3. Consider letting your child invest their money in the stock market: You can let them pick the stock the money is invested in. Then, each quarter, review the account statement with your child and see how the value goes up and down. Both a savings account and the stock market are powerful, hands-on ways to show children the power of compounding as well as build their confidence in saving for the future.
  4. Play games involving money: Money-themed board games including Monopoly or Life are engaging, memorable introductions into understanding how money works. Play “store” or “restaurant” to further engage kids and deepen their understanding of monetary transactions. Include your children when you make trips to the bank or ATM machine.

Unfortunately, most children grow up without any financial education whatsoever, whether at home or at school. Since 2016, not one US state has added personal finance to its K-12 standards. This lack of financial basics is creating long-term negative effects. For example, nearly 25 percent of Millennials are spending more money than they earn, and 67 percent of Gen Y have less than three months’ worth of savings in their emergency fund.

Studies show that children benefit from learning how money works, beginning at a very young age. These are just a few of the benefits that come from financial literacy:

Teaching financial literacy to our own families, especially to our daughters, is very important. Studies consistently find that women have lower financial literacy levels than men, even after accounting for marital status, education and income. This gender gap in financial literacy is observed throughout women’s lives. We, as parents, can stop this trend and pass down good financial habits to our kids.

Parents who discuss financial topics with their kids at least once a week are significantly more likely to have kids who say they are smart about money (64 percent vs. 41 percent). The small steps we take today can have a major, measurable impact on our children and on their future success.

Susan Michel is founder and CEO of Glen Eagle, an award-winning financial services firm offering retirement planning to business owners and wealth management. Glen Eagle takes an educational, holistic approach to meeting its clients’ long-term goals. Glen Eagle is a WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprise. Susan is a board member of EO’s New Jersey chapter.

For more insights and inspiration from today’s leading entrepreneurs, check out EO on Inc. and more articles from the EO blog

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