It can be hard to teach your kids about finances when you feel like you don't have it completely figured out yourself. Don't worry, though—you don't have to have all the answers. Rather, focus on being a money mentor. Practice good financial habits and provide a lasting example of saving, budgeting, and open financial communication.
We know there is a lot to juggle when it comes to parenting and finances. As a start, we came up with 4 quick tips we think every parent should know.
1. Lead by example
Kids are always watching and learning from you, so make sure you're being a good money role model in the day-to-day experiences—like by minding your spending, prioritizing saving, and being cautious with over-reliance on debt, such as credit cards. Simple lessons like teaching your kids the difference between spending on wants and needs can go a long way. Maybe you can even involve your kids in the family’s budgeting so they get a sense for what expenses add up to, how to prioritize, the difference between needs and wants. Anything that involves money can be used as a learning tool to teach financial literacy for kids.
For 6 tips on how to be a good money role model, read more Viewpoints at Fidelity.com: Be a great money role model.
2. Have open conversations about money
It’s all about how you bring up the topics. Instead of having one-time sit-down "money talks," integrate discussions about money into your everyday life. Use real-life examples to make it understandable for them, such as how your credit score impacted the rate you got at the car dealership, or how you’re saving for family vacation and the types of trade-offs you’re making, or why you used your credit card rather than debit card when you went shopping. Each of these is a learning moment.
To learn more about talking to your kids about money, read Viewpoints at Fidelity.com: 5 ways to teach your kids about money.
3. Save for their higher education
Remember that higher education, such as college or trade school, can be incredibly expensive and seems to come quicker than we think. It's never too early or too late to start saving.
An option that can help is a 529 savings plan. If you can, try to make small monthly contributions, or automate your contributions. Another idea is to ask relatives to make contributions toward your kids' education plan instead of giving toys at holidays or birthdays. If your kids decide to work before college, you could also offer them some sort of matching program. For example, for every 50 cents they contribute, you will match with a dollar.
To learn more about how 529 plans can help you plan smarter, read Viewpoints at Fidelity.com: The ABCs of 529 savings plans.
4. Don't put yourself last
Think about your finances with an "oxygen mask" mentality—protect yourself first. Make sure you've taken care of your foundational financial wellness first, for example your retirement savings. Your kids can secure a loan for college, if needed, which isn't an option for retirement. Saving for retirement is for you, and them in the long run so they don't end up being financially responsible for you.
To learn more about foundational financial wellness, read Viewpoints at Fidelity.com: How to balance debt, saving, and investing.