By Amanda Mitchell, AFC® Candidate
April is Military Saves Month, and the last week of which is focused upon saving money as a family. Including our children in conversations about money could be one of the best things we can do for them. Normalizing conversations about money and what we do with it helps them avoid the stigma of talking about your money. The truth is that money touches every aspect of our lives. We all want better for our children, so it is up to us to sow the seeds of financial wellness early so that they can avoid financial heartache and instead focus on becoming amazing human beings. So, where to begin?
Don’t make it weird
Kids are naturally curious. They want to know all there is about the world, which can lead to some interesting questions from time to time. My family didn’t discuss money with me much as I was growing up, but I knew it was a source of stress for my parents. I developed a weird relationship with money that led to me “hoarding” money instead of making educated decisions. While you don’t have to get into the specifics, answer their questions honestly. Even if you have made mistakes, it is ok. Sharing your lessons learned can help them to avoid similar situations. Use everyday occurrences as teachable moments.
- Talk them through how you pay at the cash registers. Explain how debit and credit cards work. My kids were genuinely fascinated by the idea of the card being able to move real money from one place to another.
- Get them involved in couponing. My kids loved getting their scissors out and cutting out the coupons they liked. Also, finding coupons within stores has become a game for my two older children. They get EXCITED when they find them and see who can find the best ones.
Just do the best you can to make conversations about money a healthy and natural discussion.
Set the Example
One of the most challenging things we have to do as parents is confronting our weaknesses to help our children avoid the mistakes we have made. What matters most is that you are willing to learn. Showing them that mistakes are correctable and that you can always try to do better will serve them well throughout their lives, just not in their finances. Here are a few ways you can set a positive example:
- Take the Military Saves Month pledge and commit to saving more money. Get them involved by challenging them to save their own money too!
- Seek guidance about your finances. Free financial counseling is available through your installation’s community service office. There is also free online financial counseling available through the Yellow Ribbon Network.
- Military Saves Month
- Go here to find a certified professional in your area: https://www.afcpe.org/find-an-afcpe-certified-professional/
- Check with your bank! They may have financial counseling resources available to you for free!
- The Yellow Ribbon Network
- Your installation’s Community Service office. There are financial counselors available to you for free year-round!
- The Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE) has put together a great list of resources that are centered on financial literacy for kids. It can be accessed here.