by Charlotte Wood
(last updated February 21, 2009)
The ability to save money is such a crucial quality to develop and one that can easily influence your finances for the rest of your life. People need to learn how to save at a young age so they can develop that habit and mentality early on in life; once established, saving money won't be a hard thing for children as they grow up and take on more significant financial responsibility. Fortunately for parents, teaching the value and principle of saving money isn't that difficult and results in lifelong rewards for children.
When your children are old enough to understand what money is and the basics of how we use it is the time to begin instilling in them the understanding and desire to save. Granted, some children are more money-conscious than others and therefore more likely to save their money (some children don't even need coaxing), but if they can start out with a basic foundation for understanding money they'll be well on their way toward understanding and acting upon saving money.
Help your children open up a savings account. Go with them to the bank, help them talk with the financial representative, show excitement for them when they make their first deposit, and then continue to bring up saving money in other settings. Give your children opportunities to earn money and then proceed to ask if they plan on saving a part of their earned money. You want their saving to be voluntary because that means they actually want to save and it's more likely they'll continue to save, as opposed to forcing them to put aside their money when they don't want to. Teaching children how to save is far different from making or forcing them to save, the latter doing nothing more than increasing their savings balance while the former instills values of hard work and financial prudence.
As your children grow older, talk to them about things to save for like college, a car, or something else substantial. When they can understand the reward of saving for something they really want, they'll be more motivated to save, resulting in more saving. Learning the value of saving is priceless and a lesson that will be applied over and over again throughout your children's lives. If you can teach them early and give them a desire to save and the will to do so, they'll be well on their way toward financial independence later in life and come away from childhood with life skills that can be hard to develop in older years.
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