April is Financial Literacy month, and being such, it is the perfect time to make this important part of family life a topic of discussion within your household. Whether your kids are young or nearing adulthood, it is never too early (or too late for that matter) to educate your children about financial literacy so they gain the skills they need to properly manage their finances as adults. Here are 10 things you can do to improve your family’s knowledge of finances and help set a standard for proper money management.
1. Redefine Fun
For some reason, having fun has become associated with spending money (think going out to eat, shopping, visiting an amusement park, and taking extravagant vacations). This is unfortunate since there are countless activities you can do with your kids to create memories that don’t cost a thing, like a trip to the park, a walk around the neighborhood, a family movie marathon, or an ice cream sundae party at home. Be as creative and turn everything into an adventure.
2. Plan Your Meals
As in life, when it comes to meals, not having a plan is planning to fail. Get your kids involved in helping plan meals weekly—make it a fun family activity. Creating a meal plan will not only help you feel more organized but will save you money in the long run, especially on those nights when you don’t know what to make and turn to unhealthy fast food as a quick solution.
3. Stop Using Your Kids as an Excuse to Spend
For some, being a parent means giving your children the things you never had growing up; it’s easy to validate purchases when it comes to your kids—it’s not like you’re spending the money on yourself, right? Consider these questions before making a purchase:
- Is this purchase essential to my child’s well-being?
- Does my child actually NEED this? Or do I just think they do?
- Will this purchase teach my child the value of money?
4. Find New Creative Ways to Spend
Saving money usually means getting creative with the way you spend. Consider visiting second-hand stores to purchase clothes—why pay full price when your child will grow out of them so quickly anyway? Visit yard sales (in person and pages on social media) and consignment stores, and always do research before making a purchase to be sure you’re getting the lowest price possible.
5. Create a Budget and Stick to It
Creating a budget is important, but actually sticking to it is even more important. Find an online budget worksheet to help you get started, and be realistic in the numbers you write down—overestimating income or underestimating certain essential bills is a surefire way to set yourself up for failure.
6. Create an Emergency Fund or Add to It
If you’re not already, you need to start setting aside money in an emergency fund. Car trouble, the loss of a job, or medical issues can arise at any time, leaving you strapped financially. With an emergency fund, you can rest a little easier that you can afford any unexpected expenses that will inevitably pop up.
7. Talk to Your Children About Allowance and Chores
Evaluate the chores your kids are performing and the amount of money they receive regularly to be sure all parties are on the same place, and chores and allowance remain relevant, as a 10-year-old is typically capable of doing more work and more difficult jobs than a 3-year-old, and should be compensated accordingly.
8. Evaluate How You’re Using Credit Cards
It’s unfortunate that so many people rely on credit cards to help them make ends meet each month, or maintain a certain lifestyle. This is where a budget comes in—when you create a proper budget and stick to it, you won’t have to rely on credit cards to get by. Use the mentality that if you can’t afford to pay cash, you can’t afford it. If you do choose to use credit cards, make sure you’re paying them off in full each month.
9. Don’t Accept the First Bid You Receive
Shopping for services is time-consuming and stressful, making the thought of accepting the first offer you receive very tempting, but don’t. Do research and shop around to make sure you’re getting the best deal available on cell phone service, internet, cable, home and car insurance—whatever it may be. Calling around to find the best deal often pays off in helping you save a significant amount of money each month.
10. Increase Your Family’s Financial Literacy
The best thing you can do to help improve your family’s financial literacy is to talk regularly about budgeting, finances, and all things money. Maintaining an open dialogue with your kids about these topics will help them grow to better understand money and making smart financial decisions. Read books together about finances and consider doing a family project to help your kids understand the value of money.
Set Them Up for Success
Financial literacy is so important, especially financial literacy for kids. Get your whole family involved, keep things fun, and help them understand the value of money early to set them up for a smart financial future.