Ask any child how much money you need to be rich and it’s likely you’ll get an answer in the millions. They may not know how much it costs to buy a gallon of milk, but somehow kids have figured out that it’ll take a good seven-figures to live a good life.
So how do we raise future millionaires? Well, it starts with building good money habits. To help my family remember what they are, I came up with an acronym: “SGSG,” which stands for Save, Grow, Spend, and Give.
Whenever your child comes across some cash, whether it’s allowance or a birthday gift, get him into the habit of immediately putting a portion of it into a savings account. For small children, a jar or envelope can work best. For older kids, open a savings account and together compare interest rates and fees that different banks offer. It’s a great teaching opportunity to talk about the difference between traditional banks, online banks, and credit unions.
By nurturing a savings habit, you’re helping your child think of the bigger picture. Having that bit of cushion throughout their lives will help them take bigger risks and follow their own dreams, instead of having to pass up an opportunity because they don’t have the funds. Even if you might be able to afford them those opportunities, you’re raising your child to be more confident and self-reliant.
This one can be a tough lesson for little minds to wrap their heads around – but you can still set the stage with stories around growing, investing and patience. For little ones, talk about how a plant grows from a little seed with some water, dirt, sun, and of course, time.
By age 7 or 8, you can explain how the stock market works. Take a company they know and like, maybe it’s Disney (DIS) or Mattel (MAT) and explain that a lot of people together own the company, and they can buy a piece of it, too. When the company does well, your money will grow. When the company doesn’t, you can lose money. But you don’t want to discourage them by the thought of losing money, so remind them that your money will likely grow if you spread it out in a lot of different companies in the stock market. You just have to be patient.
Now onto a topic kids are already acing. The money your child has placed in this jar should be spent however your child pleases (with rules, of course). Remind them that overspending can result in having to borrow what you don’t have. So it’s important to spend only what they have, or what they can pay back by the end of each month.
Kids tend to think credit cards = cash so it’s important you teach them that every time you swipe, you’re actually borrowing money from a bank. When we had this conversation with our kids, I set up a cash register and let him “buy” a set of Legos using cash and then credit. I’m not sure if his 5-year-old brain understood, but it did make him pause when I told him that if he forgets to pay the bank back for that Lego set, the money he could’ve used to buy a second set will just end up at the bank.
Who doesn’t want to raise a generous child? It helps to lead by example and show your children that you are operating out of a place of abundance rather than greed. Pick a charity together, maybe one where you donate money and another where you volunteer your time together. Not only will it result in some quality family time, but your kids will learn not to hold on so tightly to money and material things, because there are much more important things to value in life.
We want to hear from you! What are some fun ways you’re teaching your kids about money? Share them with me on Twitter @jeanie531.