With children and money, school's always in session

  A teacher conducts a question and answer session with young students.

How do children learn about money? From the adults in their lives. So how can you set a good financial example for your children? By talking to your children about your own financial habits and planning, they can gain the knowledge and best practices needed to help them better manage money in the future. Here are three simple lessons you can reinforce with children of any age.

1. You earn money by working

Show your children how people in your community work hard to make a living. Point out how the supermarket cashier, the police officer and the bank teller help others while earning money to support themselves. Then discuss ways your children could work to earn money.

2. You may have to wait to buy something you want

Ask your children to make a list of items they want, and discuss how much money it will take to buy them. Then help them develop a plan to save up. 

3. Wants are different from the needs

Maybe your family needs milk, but your kids want cookies. Talk to your children about taking care of needs first. Then you can decide together what to do with whatever money is left. This is a good opportunity to talk about saving for their future – especially if your children want to someday continue with their post-secondary education. And your children can practice charity by donating to causes that are meaningful to them.

Look for ways to drive home these lessons – for example, you could share an easy-to-understand version of your own budgeting process. This way, your children can see the "big picture" of your household's finances and help build a foundation of financial responsibility.