5 tips for teaching kids about family finances in 2019

Whether it’s drafting a new family budget or making financial resolutions, money is a common topic at the start of the new year. Here are some tips for making 2019 the year of financial literacy and fiscal responsibility for your family.

Talk about money with your kids.

In his book, “The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money,” Ron Lieber urges parents to talk about finances with kids. Demystifying the topic can seem daunting, but it’s important. “Given how much we invest in them, talking about what we spend and save and give away, and why, is one of the important legacies we can leave them,” Lieber writes.

NYT best-selling author and personal finance expert Nicole Lapin agrees, explaining that “the more you explain about how you handle money, the more you instill your values in your child.” In talking about money, parents demystify money and make it less intimidating, which makes it easier to learn about and sets them up for good financial habits down the road.

It’s not only okay for your kids to see you working on a budget for 2019, it sets a great example.

Explain credit scores to your kids and check your score for accuracy.

Explain credit scores to kids who are tweens or older in terms that they can understand—it’s similar to a financial report card.

It’s a good idea to check your credit score annually, especially because you can do so for free here. Lapin says that it’s not only important to know where you stand financially, but you also should look for mistakes. She learned the importance of doing so first-hand when hers showed charges from a doctor in Texas, a state in which she had never received medical treatment. “Problems only get worse if you don’t check,” she says.

Use apps to save.

Lapin has two apps she recommends for saving. The first is Honey, which automatically searches for coupon codes before you check out of a site. (I tried it out over the holidays and found it really helpful!) Have your kids help you order a gift online for the next birthday party. Doing so is an opportunity to talk about comparing prices, taxes and how much you can save with a sale or coupon.  

Zelle is another app she recommends. It’s a way to split costs, whether that’s for a dinner out with friends or for the group gift to the coach or teacher. It can save time and you know what they say—time is money.

Two easy ways to save: cancel unused subscriptions and negotiate your bills.

Check your statements and see if you have any subscriptions that you forgot about or are no longer using. Cancel those.

Lapin also recommends make some calls to negotiate your bills. “Whether checking to see if there’s a better phone plan or lower your cable or streaming charges or see if you can get a better interest rate on your credit card. I talk with families who don’t know those are negotiable, but they are. The worst they can say is no, but if you don’t ask, the answer is always no,” she says.

Learn about our nation’s financial systems.

The Money Museum at the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank is a great place for families to learn about money—from how it’s designed to thwart counterfeiters to what a million dollars really looks like to learning about monetary policy through interactive exhibits.

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