Help kids find strength in numbers

Credit Union Youth Month

When it comes to handling money, you can count on your children to watch and learn from you. A visit to the Credit Union, grocery store or a CashPoints® ATM is a perfect time to talk to them about your family’s financial fitness routine. Here are some ideas to help strengthen your children’s ability to manage money in the real world.

Be flexible with money lessons

During playtime, have your kindergartener be a shopkeeper. Gather items from your pantry to stock the shelves of an imaginary store. Use coins for buying and selling. You’ll give your child, in a fun way, a lasting idea of how business works.

Once she’s a little older, have your tween clean out your basement and closets, then let her manage a yard sale or flea market booth to sell items your family no longer wants or needs. Work with her to set item prices and process the money. Handling inventory, pricing, negotiating prices and keeping up with the cash box is a great way to teach young people about all aspects of money management. If she makes a profit, have her deposit the earnings into her Fat Cat Account for kids or a Zard Account for teens.

Invite others to help teach financial fitness

Share your spending and saving experiences to create lasting impressions for your children on good money choices. Allow extended family members to share money stories with your children too. That’s another set of financial lessons from someone else they admire.

Check with your child’s school to see what lessons about money are being taught, then piggyback on them. Some elementary schools have created their own pretend currency where kids earn “money” throughout the semester that they can spend later on treats or even to buy time to use their mobile devices during school hours.

Use gaming apps to develop strong savers

Try a mobile app to help your child learn about personal finances. He can play games where he earns pretend money, then either save it for an in-app purchase later or spend it right away. With these games he will learn to earn and save money to buy what he wants, just like Mom and Dad do in the real world. Keep in mind that data charges may apply during mobile app use when your child isn’t connected to a WiFi network.

Help teens build financial strength

Kids are going to make mistakes with money, just like adults do. If your child spends all of his allowance on new sneakers, then he will have no money left to eat out with friends. When that happens, don’t bail him out! Instead, use this experience to talk about how you prioritize your wants and needs. One missed meal with friends and he’ll likely learn quickly.

Set goals with your teen

Having a goal in mind helps kids learn to exercise patience to get what they want. It’s good practice saving for big things later in life, like a first car. If your teen wants the latest device or game, let him have it — if he helps pay for it. Work with him to set a savings goal for what he wants to buy, then create a Parent-Child Financial Contract to hold him accountable for sharing the cost of his new item.

Keep your child focused on his savings goal by discussing the challenges and successes he’s having. If the goal seems out of reach, work with him to break it into more manageable steps. Suggest he aim for weekly or monthly savings goals instead of long-range periods of time.

Help track account balances

Computers and mobile apps come naturally to teens, so have them track their Zard account activity using a tool like Compass by LGFCU, our complimentary money management tool. You can create an account in Compass for Zard and then download your child’s savings account information. Your teen can track her spending, see her balances and know when it’s time to add more money to the account.

Add these tips and activities to your financial routine this month to help your child become even more financially fit.

The advice provided is for informational purposes only.

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