1. Give your kids an allowance
At first, money can seem like an infinite resource to your kids. They see you swiping your card, and they just assume there will always be money to pay for stuff they want and need. Giving kids a weekly allowance is a tried-and-true method of teaching them how to budget with finite resources.
They'll likely be tempted to blow their allowance on the first thing they see — and that's OK. By letting them splurge a little, over time they'll be getting a hands-on lesson in managing their cash to make it last so they have money for other things. Couple that with some age-appropriate chores around the house, and they'll naturally learn that they need to work to pay for things they want.
2. Explain needs vs wants
By the time your kids reach middle school,2 they'll start to notice what their peers have — and they'll want it too. Helping your kids understand the difference between a need and a want is an important part of growing up.
Try asking your kids to make a wish list of everything they want right now. Once the list is complete, research the price of each item and use that as a springboard to talk about choices. Go through their list with them and talk about the price of each item — and then have them decide if those expensive designer jeans or that new gaming system is really worth the weeks of allowance they'd have to save to buy it. By guiding your kids through this sort of careful consideration around money, you're laying a foundation for critical thinking that will stick around for the rest of their lives.
3. Cultivate the practice of saving money
Having your kids save up to buy their own big-ticket items — like a new smartphone, a laptop, or a car — is a valuable lesson. However, most kids aren't natural savers. To encourage it, open up a minor savings account3 for them and offer to match any deposit they make. Set up a time at least once a month to check their savings account balance with them online so they can see their money growing.
4. Thinking out loud
Finally, remember that your kids are picking up on your financial moves — and that's a good thing! Kids learn by watching what adults do. You can capitalize on this by making it a habit to simply think out loud when you pay bills, manage your budget, or check the balance in your checking or savings account. Explaining what you're doing will help your kids better understand what they're seeing — especially in this digital age where most of our finances are handled on our laptops or with our smartphones.
For bonus points, look for teachable moments with both everyday activities and bigger purchases. Take your kids to the grocery store and have them find items from your shopping list and pick out matching coupons. Bring your kids along while you shop for big-ticket items like electronics or a new car. Use the time to explain advertising and marketing techniques, and help them understand the importance of comparison shopping.
While you may get an eyeroll or two (especially in those pre-teen years), the small lessons you teach every day will help your kids blossom into thoughtful, money-smart adults.
5. Open a minor savings account
When you're ready to open a saving account for your kids, Synovus is here to help with savings accounts for minors that have no minimum balance or monthly fees,3 as well as guidance from bankers who are parents too.