April is Financial Literacy Month and Thursday, April 27th is Bring Your Children to Work Day. Both events serve as reminders of the importance of guiding your children and grandchildren towards financial responsibility. Regardless of age, it’s never too early (or too late) to impart knowledge about financial literacy. Even older family members can benefit from refreshing their memories! Here are some helpful tips for tackling the topic at different ages:
Younger ages: Even preschoolers and elementary school students can start learning about the significance of saving, budgeting, and distinguishing between necessities and nice-to-haves. For instance, they can be taught that essentials such as food and shelter are necessities, while computer games and new toys are not essential to survival, despite their passionate arguments about their importance. Engaging children in games such as “store,” or showing them different items and asking them to guess their cost, can help them understand the relative value of different purchases. (For example, a book costs less than a Lego toy, which is significantly less expensive than a refrigerator.)
There are also books and videos that are geared toward children, including a classic School House Rock Money. Although a little dated, it still imparts timeless wisdom. The Everything Kids Money Book and My First Book of Money are both child-friendly books that teach basic money knowledge and lessons.
Teenage Years: With older children, it’s time to empower them to take responsibility for some of their finances. You may choose to give them an allowance, pay them for chores, or encourage them to find an age-appropriate job such as babysitting, running errands for a neighbor, or doing yard work. This is a perfect time to help them open their own bank account, enabling them to see the value of saving as funds accumulate. In addition, these activities offer your children the chance to put budgeting principles into action and make choices between fulfilling immediate desires versus saving for the future. You can also encourage them to donate part of their funds and volunteer, which will teach them the importance and gratification of giving back to others and getting involved in the community. Finally, introducing teens to the fundamental concepts of the markets, investing, stocks and bonds, and, if their school has an investment club, encouraging them to participate, can help them develop a beginning foundation in finance.
College Age: As your children grow more independent, it’s important to reinforce and strengthen the knowledge they have already gained. In college, providing your children with a set budget every month and encouraging them to record their expenses can show them that eliminating some “luxury” purchases, such as their daily gourmet coffee, can significantly increase their monthly funds. Helping them establish a realistic budget that distinguishes between necessities and desires and the importance of having a safety net (a great time to introduce the concept of 50% towards necessities, 30% towards the fun stuff, and 20% to savings) can help set them on a lifelong path of financial responsibility.
Entering the Workforce: That first paycheck can often be a surprise to the newly employed, particularly when they look at the difference between gross pay and what they are taking home. Educating them about the different deductions for taxes, Social Security, Medicare, and contributions to retirement plans will help to demystify paychecks and provide an entrée to a discussion about company retirement plans, Health Savings Plans and the benefits of tax-advantaged savings. As they begin to pay rent and possibly consider purchasing a home, discussing the importance of maintaining good credit to qualify for a mortgage with favorable terms is crucial. Klingenstein Fields Advisors is happy to meet with your children and take them through our discussion specially tailored to young adults starting out in the world.
Cybersafety at all ages: Children may think that they are more knowledgeable about the digital world, making them less susceptible to cybercrime risk. However, because they conduct so much of their life virtually, they may be less likely to question potential scam tactics. Encourage them to be vigilant and be on the lookout for:
- Phishing – email or phone calls that appear to be from a legitimate source, asking for money or personal information.
- Pharming – activities that direct victims to a fake website that mimics a real one to collect personal information.
- Public networks – discourage the use of public networks to conduct transactions where your children are signing in and/or providing personal information.
- Secure passwords – avoid passwords that are simple, based on personal information, or used across multiple accounts and don’t share or lend your passwords, even to someone you trust.
Financial literacy is a complex topic with many layers. We encourage you to reach out to us for assistance in helping your children achieve financial responsibility and independence. You can contact us directly by phone at 212.492.7000 or email us at email@example.com. In addition, you’ll find News and Insights on our website and educational webinars on a variety of financial topics on our YouTube channel. And please don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.