Children learn the basics - math, English and science - at school. But when it comes to learning about saving and spending money wisely, the lessons begin at home.
"Helping children understand finances is very important, so that when they graduate and live on their own, they can fend for themselves and be financially secure both in their daily lives and their future," says Nick Fyntrilakis, assistant vice president of Community Responsibility for MassMutual, at Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., Springfield, Mass.
According to a National PTA article on FamilyEducation.com, "money gives people -- both young and old -- decision-making opportunities."
"Educating, motivating, and empowering children to become regular savers and investors will enable them to keep more of the money they earn and do more with the money they spend," the article says.
Here are some tips to help you educate your children about good money management:
Help them establish a savings account
Children accumulate money in many different ways - ranging from birthday presents to jobs they've organized like walking a neighbor's dog or mowing lawns. But putting that money into a piggy bank doesn't do anything. Explain about interest, and find a bank or credit union that offers accounts that don't charge monthly fees, don't require a minimum account balance, have good interest rates and are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Company (FDIC) or the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF).
Set a budget - both for yourself and your children
Children follow by example, and you can make a good impression by showing them how you stay within a budget - whether it's for food, utility bills or fun activities. Help your kids establish a budget, and explain the differences between needs and wants.
Make it fun with an app
Check out Save! The Game, a free app parents can help their children download from iTunes for a fun "needs vs. wants" game. Also, consider speaking to children about establishing a savings plan, and how much of their income they should put away for the future. This is a good time for them to plan for larger upcoming expenses like owning a car, paying college tuition or renting an apartment.
Discuss ways your children can add to their income
Determine if you want to establish an allowance, or encourage them to be an entrepreneur and start their own business: set up a lemonade stand, wash cars, mow lawns and rake leaves, clean garages, babysit, etc. Helping them develop a good work ethic when they're young will also help them foster excellent employment skills when they join the real world as adults.
Encourage them to contribute back to society
Children may have an organization close to their heart or family they want to support. Visit MassMutual's Time for Kids website (www.TimeForKids.com/RightMoney) to see how they can narrow down the list of numerous non-profit organizations in the United States to just a couple they might have an interest in.
"Talking with your children at a young age about money matters will help them establish good financial skills before they're ready to enter the world as an adult," says Fyntrilakis.
Visit MassMutual's family finance website (www.MassMutual.com/FamilyFinances) for more education tips you can pass on to your children, and for up-to-date tips and calculators for adults as well.