Learning to save money and how to budget is just that — it’s learned. As adults, we can all point back to one time or another when we’ve struggled to master these behaviors, and it’s no different for kids. When talking to your child about saving and budgeting, think about it like learning to ride a bike — you may start with training wheels, but once you know how you’ll never forget it. With a few simple tips, your kid will learn to save like a pro.
- Lead with the goal: Saving on its own is a difficult concept for kids to grasp. Instead, ask them what saving money means to them and something fun they want to save money for — is it an ice cream treat, a new toy, going to the movies? Let their answer guide you on how to help them achieve that goal.
- Start small: Now that they’ve got a list of ideas, start with the smallest and least-expensive goal and begin by saving small amounts. This strategy allows them to see how saving even small amounts leads to a bigger sum. Plus, the smaller goal means they’ll achieve it sooner — which is rewarding and encourages them to continue with the next goal on their list.
- Create the plan together: Help them understand the total cost of their goal and different options for how much to save and how long it will take. Then, let them choose the plan they feel most comfortable with. You may need to limit the time frame to a few days to start with for young kids. Keeping it achievable and setting reasonable expectations is key.
- Make their progress visual: Create a chart or calendar they can use to see how much they’ve contributed and what remains. If your child is using a jar to save their money, you can track their progress by putting the chart or calendar on the outside so they keep the two connected in their mind.
- Be patient: Remind your kids to be patient and that they will reach their goal if they stick with their plan. That’s why it’s important to set the right time frame and savings amount for the goal.
- Encourage them: Congratulate them each time they reach a milestone or contribute more to their — they should be proud of their dedication and patience!
Remember, creating a budget or savings plan can feel overwhelming, and it takes practice to make it a good habit. By helping them create a visual, actionable plan with a little encouragement along the way, you’ll set your kids up to be financially healthy adults — and that’s the ultimate goal.
If you’re looking for more helpful financial tips and tools to better plan, spend, save, and borrow, check out PlanU by UFCU. You’ll find options from talking with a financial health expert to creating a personalized resource center to meet your needs.