Unfortunately, saving money isn’t an inherent trait like our hair color. A lucky few seem to be natural savers, but the rest of us must learn the behavior of saving money as they grow. And as with most things, ingraining those savings lessons and behaviors at a young age can really make an impact in the long run. As a parent, you can help your child focus on saving money for college and their future rather than spending on short-term things.
Here are six easy and fun ways to set students up for a lifetime of financial success:
1. Open a Savings Account
Piggy banks are great. However, an official bank account can help a child feel more involved in their financial decisions. It makes them take an active role in putting money into their account. Keep in mind: Young children often need a parent to be on the account with them.
2. Match Funds
Consider creating a matching program with your child. For every dollar they save, match it with a dollar of your own. This is a great way for you to support and reward your child’s saving behaviors
3. Set Goals
You can help your child set a variety of goals to save money for things that they want. For example, if your child loves horses you can encourage them to save for a horse-riding lesson. Whether the goal is a pair of awesome new shoes, a car, or college, setting goals can give your child a purpose for saving.
4. Give Them an Allowance
If you decide to give your child an allowance, teach them to use it. Lessons on how to budget allowance money for the things they want can help them succeed at hitting those goals.
5. Make It Fun and Easy to Visualize
Who doesn’t love a good visual aid? Creating a savings goal chart can help your child visualize how much they are saving. Think of fundraising thermometers: as they get closer to reaching their goal, the thermometer level rises, and new lines are drawn on the chart.
6. The Jar Method
For particularly young children, some experts recommend using a three-jar method. Some of their money goes into a Spending jar, some goes into a Sharing jar, and the rest goes into a Saving jar. Label the jars and have your child decorate the jars with you.
Encouraging children to save can begin when they’re young enough to want any material items. If they’re old enough to point at an item in the toy store, they’re probably old enough to begin learning about money. The skills they learn at a young age will stay with them and help them manage their money into adulthood. It’s never too early (or too late) to teach your kids tips for saving money for college.