We send our kids off to school daily where they learn everything from how to compose an accurate chemical equation to what year each ancient civilization collapsed. Our children effortlessly navigate the internet, confidently troubleshoot malfunctioning technology and speak a language all their own. But one area that continues to be an opportunity for improvement, generation after generation, is financial literacy. For various reasons (assuredly none intentional) we allow our young adults to leave the nest without the solid footing they need to confidently navigate the financial world they will soon enter. Many milestones of adulthood are paired with complex financial skills that our children may not fully understand. Going forward, we can right the wrong by making financial literacy as common and integrated as knowing their ABCs. Here are four financial skills that every child should learn before leaving home.
- A budget is a financial tool that helps you plan how to responsibly spend your money. Budgets also assist in creating financial security by clearly presenting your incoming and outgoing funds, which discourages impulse purchases and inconsistent contributions to your savings account. Children who learn to budget are more likely to be more adept at money management later in life.
- A credit score is a three digit number banks and lenders use to determine how well-rounded and consistent your history of responsible debt repayment is. Lenders check your credit score to decide whether the risk of providing a loan is worthwhile or not. A high credit score allows you to get the best interest rates on car, home and personal loans, as well as credit cards. Knowing the ins and outs of how to effectively building credit will give your kids a head start in their journey to financial literacy.
- Buying a house is one of the biggest financial decisions that we make as adults, but the process can be complex and overwhelming. For most, elements like interest rates, down payments, various types of loans, homeowners’ insurance, property taxes and closing costs were foreign concepts that we learned while buying our first home, making the experience even more stressful. Help your children avoid the anxiety by teaching them about these concepts early on.
- Philanthropy is the act of giving a person or charitable foundation a gift. Philanthropic gifts can be given in the form of time, labor or expertise, but most often, they are financial. Philanthropists earn their title by habitually giving. In order to sustain such a financial commitment to others, the giver must employ several money management skills. They must budget, save and keep accurate financial records for tax purposes. Shouldering such a task is more complicated than meets the eye, so true philanthropy must be taught in the same manner as any other financial skill. By exposing children to the purpose, importance and management of giving, you substantially increase the chances of your child being a lifelong philanthropist.
The best way to help your children establish a solid understanding of financial acumen is to start early and be transparent. You are your kids’ first and most important role model and who they look to for guidance. It’s never too early to teach age appropriate money management skills to create in your children a habit of being financially informed and aware. Show your children how you manage your finances. Explain how you budget monthly. Teach them the technical aspects of making tough financial decisions. Doing so can make all the difference in how financially confident and able your child grows up to be.