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By Charlestien Harris

I grew up in a household where money was often the subject of conversation.  I learned my basic money skills under the careful guidance of my parents.  I remember my father sitting down with each of us and laying the bills out on the table, then he allowed us to see the amount of each and taught us how to write a check to cover the amount of the bill. 

I didn’t know it at the time but in many ways my father was preparing me for the career I have today, and I’m very thankful.  That is why I say the earlier you start teaching your children about money, the more they will be prepared for the financial road that lies ahead of them. 

As you know, managing money as an adult can be difficult with limited financial knowledge.  Teaching your child about money now will help them to become a more financially independent adult.  Parents are the primary influence on their children’s financial future and we can play a big part in their success. 

As parents we can offer our support and provide opportunities for learning basic money principles, communicate information, set powerful examples, and involve them in hands-on activities that can teach them the financial skills they will use well into their adult life. 

With families spending more and more time together indoors, now is the perfect time to teach money management.  If you don’t teach your kids how to manage money, somebody else will and it may not be what you want them to learn.  There are so many resources and activities that can be used to teach children about finances.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Keep it simple for younger children.  Try using a clear jar instead of a piggy bank for collecting and saving money.  When you use a clear jar, they see the money growing. 
  • Set a good example. In most cases money habits in children are formed by the time they are seven years old. Little eyes are watching you, so set a good example by practicing good money skills in front of them, limiting your use of credit cards and paying cash instead when appropriate.  You can use those times as a teachable moment. 
  • Children often learn by doing. Help them grab a few dollars out of their jar, take it with them to the store, and physically hand the money to the cashier. This simple action will have more impact than a five-minute lecture. My kids will tell you I used this tactic with them and it works! 
  • For middle school-aged children, get a little more detailed in the decision making process. Showing them the concept of opportunity cost is another important issue.  One way to say it is, “If you buy this video game, then you won’t have the money to buy that pair of tennis shoes.” At this age, your kids should be able to weigh decisions and understand the possible outcomes. 
  • Teach teens contentment and patience. Teens can be the most difficult age group to reach with money management being the last thing on their minds.  One suggestion would be to teach them contentment. Your teen probably spends a good amount of their time scrolling through social media. Every second they’re online, they’re seeing the highlight reel of their friends, family and even total strangers enjoy what they think are the best parts of life. The comparison trap is being set and unless you address it, it will convince them that they now have to have those same things no matter the cost.  Giving them the responsibility of a simple bank account can help them realize that it’s ok to wait before purchasing items they want. This takes money management to the next level, and can help prepare them for managing a more complex account when they get older.

Raising money smart kids can help them become money wise adults capable of making good decisions that will positively impact their financial futures. For resources on teaching kids about money, visit ,,, or you can access Southern Bancorp’s financial library at  Until next week, stay financially fit!