If they are old enough to ask for a toy, they are old enough to start learning financial lessons. Look for opportunities to talk about money such as reading books and playing games that center around spending wisely. Be open and honest about your financial experiences--good or bad.
Consider these other teachable moments:
At the bank: B
ring your children and show them how transactions work. Ask an employee to explain how the bank operates, how money generates interest, and how an ATM works.
Discuss how your pay is budgeted for housing, food, and clothing, and how a portion is saved for future expenses such as college tuition and retirement.
At the store:
It's easy to give clear examples of "needs" versus "wants" using foods at a grocery store. Milk (for strong bones) is a "need." Soda, however is an unnecessary "want." Explain the benefits of comparison shopping, coupons, and store brands.
Chores and allowances:
Assign chores and determine a monetary value for each task. Discuss ways to budget and divide allowances. Encourage children to set a financial goal, such as saving for a bike, and figure out how to achieve it.
Explain the ways that bills can be paid: over the phone, by check, electronic check, or online check draft. Discuss how each method of bill pay takes money out of your account. Be sure to cover late penalties, and emphasize the importance of paying bills on time and maintaining good credit.
Using credit cards:
Explain that credit cards are a loan and need to be repaid. Share how each month a credit card statement comes in the mail with a bill. Go over the features of different types of cards, such as ATM, debit, and credit cards.
Explain to your children how valuable their personal information and privacy are, and the ways online predators try to obtain it. Discuss the risks and benefits of sharing certain information. Make a list of rules for keeping personal information safe online.
Planning a vacation:
Emphasize the value of saving as a family. Set a family savings goal that involves your children. Determine the cost and discuss ways everyone can help contribute.