Learning is a life-long process beyond reading, writing and arithmetic classes in school. It also includes money management skills, said Cindy Clampet, Oklahoma State University Extension assistant family resource management specialist.
Although Oklahoma requires students to take a personal financial literacy class to graduate from high school, Clampet said learning principles of earning, saving, protecting and investing can start even earlier at home.
“Start by giving small children money for purchases at the store. Exchanging coins for candy teaches them money has value,” Clampet said. “The next lesson is that the value of money is tied to effort or work. By paying them for extra chores – beyond what would normally be expected in the family – they learn the money represents a certain amount of work.”
It can be a real eye-opener for a child who wants a $200 item when they realize that amount equals 28.5 hours working in the yard for $7 per hour. One of two things will happen in that scenario: the child will be more appreciative of the item, or they’ll decide that much effort isn’t worth it.
“Either way, the child learns that things cost money and won’t be handed over without putting forth some work,” she said.
Another way to help develop those skills is to set up a savings account at a local bank or credit union. Go with them as they make deposits; they’ll get excited when they see the balance grow.
Clampet said by the time a child is in high school, they should set up a student checking account to budget their money and pay for expenses. Student checking accounts typically have low or no fees but may come with perks such as mobile money apps and transfer options. Some banks require a student’s account be linked to the parent’s account, or they require a minimum balance. Check with several banking institutions and compare their benefits and drawbacks.
There are some good websites that have games and apps, as well. One site, www.moneyprodigy.com, is designed for children 4-18 years old. Clampet said some of the games are as simple as putting together a puzzle of dollar bills, while others require counting coins and sums. Other games introduce the hazards of payday loans, earning money as an Uber driver or budgeting for a month.
Those who may be weary of video screen content can turn to classics such as the board games Monopoly and Life. New games that are highly recommended for teaching money skills are Act Your Wage, Franklin’s Fortune, Pay Day and Managing My Allowance.
“Take advantage of this time at home with your children. The things they learn now can be a valuable investment in their financial future,” Clampet said. “Plus, you’ll get the added benefit of spending extra time with your children and passing on your values about money.”