How Can I Involve My Kids in Everyday Budgeting and Financial Decisions?

The home is the perfect place for kids of all ages to learn and practice personal finance. Here are some specific ways you can involve your kids in everyday budgeting and family finances, all while teaching important life lessons.

Consult Your Kids When Making Your Monthly Budget

Let your child know that you’re looking ahead to the next month and ask them for input on the family’s budget. This is their opportunity to give you advance notice of expenses they think are coming up. Maybe there’s a special school or sporting event that has a cost. Maybe their birthday is coming up. Your preteen son may tell you his shoes are getting tight (again) and he needs a larger pair of shoes.

Of course, your child may also want to add an item that the family cannot afford at this time. This is a perfect opportunity to teach one of the tougher lessons of personal finance. Some good things that we want need to be delayed so we can meet the family’s needs first.

Involving Your Child in the Budget Is a Win for Both of You

This will help you to craft a budget that looks ahead and foresees expenses, instead of keeping them as a bad surprise during the month. This will help the child by modeling the importance of creating a monthly plan for how the family’s income will be spent, saved, or given away during the coming month. It will also help them with the fundamental skill of thinking ahead and planning for the future. That skill will serve them their whole life.

Tip: A monthly budget is a helpful financial tool. If you’re not yet using it, check out this SaverLife article.

Give Your Kids Insight into Your Daily Finances and Decision-Making

This is easier than it may sound. Think about what financial tasks and goals you have and then, age-appropriately, let your kids in on those things by talking to them as the task naturally occurs. For example, most parents are encouraging (maybe begging) their kids to turn off the lights when they are not being used to “save electricity.” Now take it a step farther and share with your child the electricity bill. You can note that it’s often higher in the winter when you need to heat the house and discuss what things in the house use electricity. You’re building knowledge and connections between a lifelong task (turning off the lights) and its impact on finances.

Note: Choose topics that are helpful for your child to have a positive lesson in personal finances. Financial information that is stressful or involves conflict should be left to the adults in the family.

Help Your Children Understand How to Find Trusted Financial Resources

Today, marketers and those who make money off of particular products are offering lots of advice. But be aware that they are offering advice that helps them, and not necessarily you. So, who can you trust? The first place I recommend for financial education resources is the federal government’s consumer protection agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

The CFPB’s mission is to make sure “banks, lenders, and other financial companies treat you fairly.” The CFPB has free resources for consumers, parents, and educators on nearly any financial topic you can imagine. Their goal is to help you “make informed financial decisions and build financial skills.” For teaching personal finance to kids, see their section Money as You Grow. Many resources are available in English and Spanish.

Experience Is the Best Teacher

In addition to the ideas above, I’m sure you’ll see many opportunities to involve your child in personal finance and budgeting. They may not thank you now (although some will), but their grown-up selves will surely appreciate and benefit from your efforts.

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