Start ’em off young: Teaching kids the value of money – On the Money with Jarryd Neves

Jarryd Neves
On the Money. Budding stock market investor Jarryd Neves, of BizNews, sends out an invitation to everyone who wants to ask questions about share investing – but is too embarrassed to ask. Write to [email protected] And tune in for his regular Monday column: On the Money

Teaching children about money is essential. Starting young means that good habits soon flourish into greater financial decisions in the future. While many of us were given a piggy bank and a handful of change, there wasn’t much in the way of parental advice.

Some of us are lucky to be blessed with parents who taught us the ins and out of saving, investing and giving back. I was one of those kids – from a very young age, my mom taught me the importance of saving and giving back. But aside from that, children never really think of money. Simply, it’s not a priority. When you’re young, all you care about is crayons and cartoons.

However, there are some unique ways to teach children about the value of money. While a piggy bank is a child’s first traditional savings “account”, it doesn’t allow them to see the accumulation of their money. Numerous parenting websites recommend using a clear jar. This shows kids the progress of their saving and, over time, just how far they’ve come. More importantly, it will keep them motivated about saving, hopefully for the rest of their lives.

Often, parents enforce rules that they themselves don’t follow. Don’t want your kids to swear? It needs to start with you. Young children are like sponges, soaking up every good (and bad) habit that you set. Spending and money management is behaviour that they will pick up as they grow older. If they see you spending recklessly, avoiding bills and not saving, they will think this is the norm. Setting a healthy example for them about money means they will most likely follow in those footsteps.

While I grew up in a middle-class family, I was never spoiled or handed things for free. As a young boy, I adored toy cars. But my mother wouldn’t simply just reward me with them for the sake of it. Even if I had done something good, I was still reminded of the value of it. Not only did this make me mindful of the price of things from a young age, but taught me to appreciate and look after my possessions because they weren’t free.

Another important lesson is learning the value of hard work. Again, I was never given an allowance (much to my chagrin). Yes, my grandparents would give me R10 a week, but my mother? Not a chance. Similarly, I had to do housework and chores, much like everyone else in the house. Did I get rewarded for that? Nope, I got a roof over my head in exchange. You can imagine how much I hated this as a child, but now? My mother taught me the value of hard work, that nothing is for free – instead of pocket money, she invested money for me as I was growing up, paying my university fees.

Lastly, there’s the importance of giving back. As great as it feels to earn money, it’s just as wonderful to give to those in need. Money is to be enjoyed and shared with those who really need it. The great thing about this lesson is that your kids can become passionate about a cause greater than themselves – whether it’s orphaned children, abandoned animals or a hospital in need of donations. This works hand in hand with contentment. This is a particularly difficult one for young children to master, especially in the social media world we live in. They’re bombarded with fancy trips, cars and clothes every time they log on to Instagram or Facebook. We all know how easy it is to forget how much we have, but it’s important to remain grateful for what we have.

Have a question about share investing? Write to me at [email protected].

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