Why Teaching Money Skills Matters

family teaching money skills and financial literacy to kids

Like many parents of today's teens and tweens, I grew up in a time when there were three things you never discussed at the dinner table: religion, politics, and money.

So when I read this article in the NY Times, I was glad to see a change in the tide.

Helping kids understand the value of money is in everyone's best interest. Financial well-being is recognized as a significant drag on employee productivity - nothing bites into your ability to concentrate more than worrying about the family budget.

But money worries aren't just about salary and investments. Confidence that their children understand financial basics that they can effectively distinguish between wants and needs, know the value of a dollar, and can follow a simple budget is its own brand of relief. Such skills also set kids up for their own financial futures another substantial parent concern. In fact, that should be on everyone's minds, since today's young allowance earners are tomorrow's breadwinners.

The subject of financial literacy has come up before. And it aligns with current thinking by our College Coach finance experts: that financial well-being involves raising fiscally aware and responsible children. Helping parents have open and honest dialogues with children about that iPhone or Beats By Dre headphones is the beginning of financial literacy; it means that conversations about things like paying for college and educational loan repayment  and a future wage earner's ability to handle them will be easier in the future.

The Importance of Teaching Money Skills

Many employers are starting to recognize financial fitness for working parents as a family affair. We've seen it firsthand with the response to Money Smart: Raising Finance-Wise Kids, a new program we launched this year. The idea is to take the kinds of financial responsibilities that are relevant to all of us and turn them into financial content relevant to kids:

Earning & Work

Whether shoveling snow, washing the car, mowing and seeding the lawn, or watching younger siblings, allowance is a great way to incent children to do things around the home while teaching them about earning. Chores are still expected; payments are not for normal family responsibilities like making the bed or cleaning a bedroom; instead, they're the jobs they can do to earn those little luxuries that kids too often take for granted.

Budgeting Skills

Allocating allowance, gift, or earned money toward immediate spending, saving, and giving allows for the beginnings of a good budget.

Managing Money

Paying allowance via a check requires kids to visit a bank, introducing them to financial institutions. It also makes them really stop and think about how they handle their money by choosing to either cash the check or deposit it into a savings account.

What Distracts Employees?

We know from our work at College Coach that there are a wide range of questions that worry employees how to think about allowances, how to broach a conversational subject that can be viscerally uncomfortable, and how to create a simple budgeting sheet that tweens and teens can easily understand.

By giving employees quick tips and tools they can easily implement to help raise financially responsible children, we can reduce stress and help employees focus on their work.

In a day and age when many 5th graders without an iPhone 6 can feel left behind, working parents have a new list of financial worries - like helping their children understand the costs of (and tradeoffs made to earn) the latest video game console or fancy jacket with the logo on the sleeve.  Parents are smart to look for strategies and tools to help ease this daily burden.

Helping employees find those strategies is a unique way employers can create a completely supportive company culture.

Written by: Bright Horizons Blog Editor

About the Author

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The Bright Horizons Blog Editor frequently posts on the real solutions that meaningfully support employees, advance careers, and drive the world’s leading brands. The Editor curates the latest news, trends, and challenges facing HR pros because your time is scarce. Follow the Bright Horizons Blog to receive this insight in your inbox.