Good to learn money management early in life
NEW YORK — A part-time summer job can teach teens the value of earning a paycheck, but not necessarily how to manage their money wisely.
That’s a job parents should take on, and the earlier the better, experts say.
Learning the basics of saving, following a budget and the principles behind responsibly managing checking and credit accounts can instill healthy financial habits that will serve teens well as adults.
But many US teens aren’t being taught these skills, according to a report released in May by the Programme for International Student Assessment. The organization, which evaluated financial literacy among thousands of 15-year-olds in 14 countries, concluded that one in five US teens lack basic-level skills, more than in Russia, China or Poland.
“Financial literacy is a key component to understanding general money management and credit basics, but a majority of American teens are not financially literate,” says Heather Battison, vice-president at credit reporting company TransUnion. “This is why it’s imperative for parents to have conversations with their teens about money in order to start a good foundation for financial literacy and help prepare teens for financial independence.”
Here are some ways parents can begin teaching their children money management skills:
Teaching kids good financial habits can begin when children are around 5 years old, or when they typically begin asking for an allowance, according to a guide for parents published by the National Endowment for Financial Education, a nonprofit focused on financial literacy.
Parents can expect their child to spend their allowance all at once, but should use that as an opportunity to discuss how to treat the next week’s allowance, for example.
“There are many things that children will understand at actually quite a young age,” says Ted Beck, the endowment’s president and CEO.
As children hit their preteen years, NEFE’s guide also suggests that parents explain how budgets work, and the basic investing principles. The lesson could include playing at being an investor by identifying a company their child knows and encourage them to track the stock’s gains or losses.
Focus on savings
Encourage kids to set aside money they get for doing chores or presents in their own savings account. This will help show them the importance of saving up for a big purchase, and how bank sav- ings accounts work.
When a child is between 5 and 10 years old, it’s an ideal time to take them to set them up with a savings account, which can help them learn the value of saving and compounding interest, even at today’s low interest rates.
Many banks offer savings accounts tailored for young children and teens. Ally Bank has an online savings account with minimum balance requirement and offers a 1.05 percent annual percentage yield. Capital One Financial offers a savings account for kids with no fees or minimum balance and offers a 0.75 percent annual percentage yield.
Financial literacy is a key component to understanding general money management and credit basics.” Heather Battison, vice-president, TransUnion
Parents should be open to discussing their own financial mistakes with their kids, as long as the concepts in the les- son would be something their children are old enough to understand, Beck says.
“It’s OK to show you’ve made some mistakes and what you learned, but do it as a discussion, not a lecture,” he says.
Careful credit use
Parents with kids going away to college may want to add the student to their card to cover books or emergency expenses. A shared card account also can help parents keep tabs on their kids’ spending and payment habits.
Parents should make sure their teen knows that credit cards are loans and that there is a cost to not paying off balances right away.
Teaching teens how to manage their money early leads to healthy financial habits.
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