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April is Financial Literacy month: Five ways to “Celebrate” with your kids

Financial literacy is essential for daily life. And yet, many parents are intimidated to talk about money with their children, while others may be eager to cover basic concepts but aren’t sure when or where to begin.

Feeling financially confident is a crucial skill, and kids learn by doing. Helping children understand the ins and outs of the financial world means starting early and regularly educating them. Here are some ideas that can help initiate the conversation and make it a natural (and even fun!) part of your lives.

1. Open a joint checking account.

Open up that piggy bank and put the money where it belongs—in the bank. Even before kids get their first job, they are probably acquiring money from gifts or allowance or earning it through chores. While you can open a bank account at any age, you definitely should by the time kids reach their teen years.

First, choose a bank or credit union that has the options you need; it might be one you use as a family or a different one that offers an intuitive app or a free student checking account. You’ll want to visit the branch with your child to compare account options and fees. Then, your child can use the ATM to withdraw money and set up a secure account on the bank’s mobile banking portal. This is a great opportunity to educate your child about strong passwords and cybersecurity. Discuss why they should check their account regularly—weekly is best—to guard against fraudulent activity.

2. Do a spring clean—and let them keep the proceeds.

Has your child outgrown toys and is now asking for more sophisticated (pricey) tech? Or do you have a teen who craves the latest fashions but has an overflowing closet? It’s time to help them clean out—and clean up by making some cash off their goods.

First off, this is a good reminder of why it’s essential to make smart purchases since it can be painful to see their hard-earned money walk out the door for a fraction of what they paid. However, at the same time, it can be exciting to watch items they no longer use convert to cold, hard cash. Help your child set up an account on one of the many peer-to-peer sales apps; it’s a great chance for them to practice skills like advertising and photography to show off their wares. Reinforce the importance of security and never giving out their home address; many police stations or large retail outlets have areas designated for transactions like this.

After your child completes a sale, help them create a budget for the money they make including allocating it towards saving, giving or their next fun splurge. Who knows, they might enjoy the process so much that they start a lucrative side gig “thrifting” for cool finds and selling them for profit.

3. Plan a family vacation or staycation.

There are many financial variables involved in planning a vacation, from where and when to travel to preferred activities. But kids rarely grasp the intricacies if you don’t give them a window into the thought process. For example, do they prefer a longer stay at a more economical location or one that’s shorter but more luxurious? Would they support buying groceries to cover breakfast and lunch so you can splurge on a fancy meal out or choose more wallet-friendly meals and no cooking?

Talk about a reasonable budget for the entire vacation to show them why it’s important to have a figure in mind first to help provide structure to the decisions. Introduce options and help them weigh the pros and cons of spending choices and various trade-offs.

It’s also a great opportunity to emphasize the importance of saving for a trip in advance so that the money is already set aside; it’s a lot easier to relax if you’re not racking up credit card charges with every meal out.

4. Introduce the stock market.

Investing in the stock market can be an important tool for building wealth, but often people don’t understand how it works. You can help your kids open a free or low-cost account with the money they’ve saved (or invest faux money just to learn the concepts risk-free) and tap into their interest in familiar brands.

If you have your own stock account, you can discuss where you’ve invested and why…maybe it’s a company that performs solidly by selling everyday essentials consumers need or it’s on the cutting-edge of technological advances. And then take a look at the companies that interest them; investigate their stock trajectory and read about their company fundamentals. There are many free resources online to learn about stocks; start with a Google search and visit the company site, along with other reputable sites affiliated with well-known media companies.

While it’s fun to watch a stock go up (and instructive when it goes down), underscore the main message that while stocks fluctuate, the goal is to take a long-term perspective. Investing money early and leaving it in the stock market, rather than aiming to make a fast buck, offers the greatest potential for long-term gains.

5. Budget for family meals.

If your kids are wondering why you don’t buy them pricey brand-name cereal or have a never-ending stash of pre-packaged snacks around, they probably don’t know how hard it is to manage a food budget. Give them your average weekly food budget and let them decide how to allocate it; for example, they might decide to have leftovers one night so they can splurge on dinner out another night. You can put some guidelines in place around nutritious choices; i.e. each meal needs a fruit or vegetable.

Show them how they can compare prices at different stores and stretch their dollars even farther by buying items on special and combining them with coupons. There are multiple apps out there that can help them win at the grocery game. A meal plan will help them plan ahead to allow ingredients to do double duty; a head of lettuce is a side vegetable one night and a taco garnish the next.

As you work to increase your kids’ financial literacy, it’s important to show them that financial topics can be fun, by incorporating activities and approaches that help them learn by doing. Visit https://www.voya.com/page/voya-celebrates-financial-literacy to explore more about how Voya is celebrating financial literacy.

 

This information is provided by Voya for your education only; it is not intended as investment advice. All investments are subject to risk. Please consult a financial professional before making an investment or insurance decision.

Products and services offered through the Voya® family of companies.


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