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Teaching kids and teens about money

Talking with kids about money is important. Even better: Talking with kids about money while you put those lessons into practice.

When it comes to teaching your kids about finances, here are some areas where the best approach is show and tell.

Build a budget

Budgets are a great place to begin because they open the discussion about income and expenses.

Spend, Save, Share

A helpful model for budgeting expenses is Spend, Save, Share.

  • Spend 70% of your income on wants or needs
  • Set aside 25% to save for the future
  • Share 5% with a cause your child connects with

Caring for the well-being of others is an important life lesson that benefits the entire community — plus, it feels awfully good.

Real-world expenses

Once you’ve identified your breakdown of Spend, Save, Share, it’s time to input real items into your plan. Use your family’s monthly household budget as a template. You can simplify it according to your child’s level of understanding. This gives you the opportunity to talk about real-world expenses. (Pro tip: There’s nothing quite like a grocery store outing to teach about spending decisions and sticking to a budget.)

From a child’s allowance to that first job as a teenager, find opportunities for your kids to tie real expenses into their budget. Maybe they contribute a small amount, such as helping with a cell phone bill or gas for the car. This not only opens their eyes to potential sticker shock but helps them learn how money moves in and out of a budget.

Open savings and checking accounts

It’s never too early to familiarize your child with a tool they will likely use their entire life — a savings or checking account.

Numerica members ages 0-17 can take advantage of a Growth Savings account. Accounts can be opened with just $5, there is no minimum balance, and no monthly fees. Kids receive helpful financial literacy tools when they open an account, plus they earn dividends on the money they save! Because, really, what’s cooler than an earn-while-you-learn situation?

For kids ages 12-17, consider Numerica’s Growth Checking as well. This account teaches older kids healthy money management skills — complete with guardrails and parental controls.

Teach your teen with a debit card

A debit card can feel like a scary thing to hand to a teenager, but it’s an excellent way to help your teen learn how to track spending. Using a budget and the Mobile App*, you and your teen can track how much is spent on meals out or treating others. Shopping with your brain in neutral is a habit that can continue into adulthood. Now is the time to put good practices into gear to avoid that.

A debit card is easier to keep track of, and it’s less flashy than a fistful of cash. It can even be added to a phone for secure, contactless payments.

As a bonus, debit cards are protected from fraud and theft. If the card is misplaced, you can call your financial institution to have it suspended. Even better: You can freeze it any time using the Mobile App* or Online Banking. Numerica’s free real-time fraud monitoring service monitors your debit card and sends you a text if fraud is suspected.

One final thing to ease the mind of parents — alerts. You can set up account alerts to help monitor your teen’s account while still allowing them some financial freedom. Set up text or email alerts to keep an eye on transactions, withdrawal amounts, or low account balances.

Set SMART goals

Another idea that can be adapted to a child’s age is setting a simple spending goal, such as a new bike helmet, a video game, or concert tickets. This type of activity is key to illustrating the value of setting money aside for the future.

Use SMART goals to make sure the target is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and within a reasonable time frame.

Learn about loans

Is that SMART goal a bit of a reach — maybe a new bike or laptop? Consider introducing your kids to the Credit Union of Mom and Dad. Create a contract that shows payment dates and amounts, then sit down with your child to review the terms. Make sure everyone understands and agrees on repayment expectations, then provide ongoing guidance to ensure timely payments are made.

Want to automate the experience? Check out Numerica’s FamPay app* through Apple or Google Play.

Find a great partner

Nothing beats teamwork when it comes to teaching kids about money. As your kids build a foundation toward a healthy financial future, we’re here to help! Keep the conversation going at your favorite Numerica branch.

*Here’s the legal stuff: Data and/or other wireless charges may apply. See carrier for specific rates and terms.

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June 22, 2024