Lifestyles

Starting young is best when teaching kids money management

Kids today gain levels of sophistication and tech savviness at earlier ages than ever before.

But this is a complex world and, more than ever, parents have a key role in making sure their children are equipped to deal with every complexity — and developing strong money management skills should be among the most important for helping your kids achieve their life goals, lead a better life and help others.

New research reveals that Canadian parents are very proactive when it comes to teaching their children about personal finance — with 82 per cent of parents frequently or sometimes having conversations with their kids about good money habits. It's important to start dollars and sense talks early so here are some age-related tips to get you going.

• 6-12 years. Start with a 'fun' bank they can fill with coins; eventually graduate to a 'real' bank account and an allowance tied to certain tasks to learn responsibility. A fixed amount allowance is best because it teaches that there are serious choices to be made about spending and saving.

Deposit at least 10 per cent of their allowance in a bank account and explain how interest makes their money grow. Board games like Monopoly and interactive websites such as the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education are also great money education tools.

• 12-16 years. Develop a simple budget that includes keeping tax receipts and statements to keep track of their money.

A charitable giving component will show them how their money can have a positive impact on the community. Give an allowance 'bonus' for special work with the requirement that the extra money must be invested. Introduce the concepts of 'compounding' and tax-saving through such long-term investments as a RRSP eligible investment.

• 16-18 years. Have each child file a tax return as soon as they have a job that results in a T4. It'll give them a more 'personal view of taxes and build up future contribution RRSP room.

Co-sign for a low-limit credit card and carefully monitor its use. Stress the importance of making monthly credit card payments to maintain a good credit rating and avoid high interest rates or late fees. Use credit card statements to discuss spending patterns and best use of purchasing power.

More tips:

• Involve you kids in family financial discussions.

• Show how your family budget must balance expenses and income.

• You can even start playing 'money games' with your kids as young as two years old.

Teaching kids about money is just plain smart. If you want to add a professional perspective, give your financial adviser a call.

J. Kevin Dobbelsteyn is a certified financial planner with Investors Group Financial Services Inc. His column appears every Wednesday.

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