Raising Money Savvy Kids

Researchers at the University of Cambridge found that children’s money habits are formed by the age of seven.

Wait. What?

Yep. So, what can parents do to start teaching their young children how to save? When preparing your grocery shopping list, talk to your child about the difference between needs and wants. Instead of banking online, take them to the brick-and-mortar bank or credit union and, if you have not already, open up a savings account for them. When they get money for a special occasion have them set aside a portion of it for savings, sharing (charity), and spending.

Go to www.nerdwallet.com/rates/savings-account to find and compare savings account interest rates in your area. And if your child was born or adopted to a Pennsylvania Family after December 31, 2018, check out Keystone Scholars. Pennsylvania invests $100 for your child’s future.

In middle school, talk to your child about setting goals. Have your child decide upon a savings goal. Make sure it is tangible (writing down a goal makes it real), go old school or hi-tech, there are plenty of options. Make the goal attainable, set a date for completion, and finally have them plan the steps to achieve that goal.

Early on in high school, have a conversation with your child about their career goals and what sort of education they might need. Graduation seems far off, but blink and they are heading off to college.  To help your teen prepare and pay for college, here are some things they can do:

  • Research the cost of attendance (COA) and their potential salary. College Board has a robust college and career search vehicle called BIG FUTURE.
  • Explore scholarships. FinAid and FastWeb contain an extensive scholarship database. Their school’s guidance and/or career centers have access to national scholarships, but they are also a great resource for local opportunities.
  • Get a job and pay themselves first – They should set aside a portion of their earnings for college. They may not be able to cover the entire cost of tuition or room and board, but they might be able to save enough to pay for books, fees, and spending money. A financial advisor can help you find the best savings vehicle.
  • FAFSA – complete the FAFSA starting in October of their senior year. The information provided on your FAFSA is used to determine your eligibility for financial aid. Some schools also require a CSS/PROFILE to qualify for aid. Work-Study aid (caveat: they have to look for and get the Work-Study job) can be used towards paying down college debt or covering other costs that crop up. StudentAid.gov is another great resource for federal student aid programs.

Raising money savvy kids starts when they are young. Children learn about money from the world around them and parent should be the first line of defense. Commit to it. You do not have to be perfect; mistakes are great learning opportunities.