In a world where consumer is king, it is quite possible to spend like a king and end up like a pauper! To avoid such a scenario, teach your kids money management skills from a small age.
Teach them the difference between needs and wants
A ‘need’ is something that is essential for life, whereas a ‘want’ is something that may be exciting and fun, but not essential for life. You can live without a ‘want’, but you cannot live without a ‘need’. The latest mobile phone in the market is a ‘want’ if you already have a phone. Buying fruits for the family is a need.
If your child can distinguish between needs and wants, and then you teach them to spend money only on needs, your battle is won.
Teach them delayed gratification
Delayed gratification is the ability to resist an immediate, often smaller reward and wait for a later, better reward. Research at Stanford University has found that delayed gratification is one of the key elements of success in life.
There is an interesting show on television, but your child, who is a fan of the show, has an exam tomorrow. If your child wants to watch the show anyway, and you let him watch it, then you are gratifying his wish immediately. If you tell him/her to study now, and watch the show after the exam, you are teaching him delayed gratification.
You are at the supermarket. Your son wants a KFC meal, then and there. If you give in to his wishes and let him have the meal, you are gratifying his wish immediately. If you decide not to give in and go home to eat home-cooked food, you are teaching delayed gratification, and of course teaching healthy eating habits.
Teach them the saving habit
Tell your kids the story of the ant that worked very hard during the summer months and saved enough food for the rainy months. Teach them the importance of saving for a rainy day, for an emergency such as a major sickness.
Children as small as eight years old can have piggy banks into which they can put in all the coins they get, all the cash money they receive from doting grandparents and uncles/aunties. At the end of the year, the piggy bank can be broken and all the money can be counted up by the kids themselves. They will find it an exciting activity. You can start a bank account in their name, with you as the guardian, and deposit the money. At the end of each subsequent year, they can add in their savings. If done systematically, kids can save a significant amount of money by the time they are of college-going age.
Teach them to resist imitation
People spend a lot of money just because they see other people spending a lot of money. Your kids might come and tell you that their friends have the latest toy, and then you have the urge to buy them the latest toy also. You call it ‘keeping up with the Joneses’.
It is utter folly to spend money on expensive and branded products just to keep up with the society. Fashions change, trends come and go: today’s ‘in’ thing will be tomorrow’s old fashion.
Teach your children to spend within their means without bothering about what their friends are buying or what the current trend is.
Teach them to never borrow or live on credit
The prime rule for fiscally responsible living is to spend less than what you earn. If your earning is little, spend little. Teach your children that they should never borrow in order to spend.
Another related lesson you can teach, and you yourself can follow, is to minimize the use of the credit card. When you buy things on credit card, you are borrowing from the bank and spending it. You are spending money that you do not own.
All that you need is your debit card. Teach your children the same.
Teach your children not to waste money
What are the ways in which children waste money?
When they are careless and lose their pencils and erasers every other day in the school, they are wasting money, since you have to buy new pencils and erasers every other day. This is a small example.
One of the ways in which you can avoid wasting money is to take utmost care of the things you own. Teach your children the same.
Teach them to reduce, reuse, and to recycle.
Teach your children to switch off lights and fans when they do not need it. You are reducing electricity consumption. You are saving on electricity bill.
Tell younger children to use the older kids’ textbooks for school, instead of buying new books. This is reusing.
When children grow into adulthood, there will be hundreds of ways to recycle things in daily life, so they can save a lot of money, by being creative.
Teach them these habits when they are small.
Teach them basic survival skills and healthy habits
Basic skills such as cooking, sewing and baking should be taught to every child. If you do this, when they grow into adulthood, they will spend less on eating out; they will not have to pay the tailor for every little stitching work on their clothes; they do not have to buy cakes and pastries for every birthday.
They can save money on all these.
What healthy habits should you teach your kids so that they can save money?
Well, first, teach them to take care of their teeth. Brush twice a day, floss and use a mouthwash. If they do all these, they do not have to pay a ransom to the dentist.
Teach your kids to choose healthy food all the time, and to avoid the sugary sodas and processed meat. They will not have to spend a fortune at a hospital.
A financially wise future generation will be a real asset to the country.