1. Look at yourself first
As you may know, children pick up on what their parents do or say around them. Even body language has an effect on those little bundles of joy! If you’re slapping down plastic every time you go out to dinner or to the grocery store, they will eventually notice. If, at the end of every month, you and your spouse are arguing about money, they’ll notice.
The best way to ensure that your kids will understand real finances is for you to do the same NOW! What messages about money are you subconsciously sending to your kids? If you constantly put off paying bills, it is highly likely they will do the same in the future. But, if you are proactive about budgeting and spending your own money wisely, they will have a financial role model to look up to!
2. Start early
At some point you need to stop thinking and just START - even if you have to start small! When you start teaching your kids real finances as early as possible it helps set them on the right path, rather than steering them off a wrong path and back on to the right one.
Start with a clear jar that they can see everyday and use it as a piggy bank to save for a toy or item they would like. Watching money grow through the glass allows them to see the rewards of saving over a period of time. Each time your child makes a "deposit," make a big deal about it to show them that saving towards their goal is a good thing!
3. Show them that things costs money
On your next shopping trip, let them bring their clear piggy bank to the store. Instead of just saying, "That toy costs $10," show them how much money they would need in their jar to buy the $10 toy. If they have enough, physically take the money out of the jar to show them how the exchange of money for goods works. If they cannot afford the item just yet, estimate how full the jar would need to be reach the price of the item and use a sticker to mark their end goal.