Get your child started on their financial wellness journey. Here's how.

Do you have children, but you’re either too hesitant or just haven’t gotten around to talking to them about finances? You’re not alone. In a 2017 T. Rowe Price study, 69% of parents said that they’re reluctant to broach the subject of finances with their children. It can be a daunting thing, especially if you don’t feel like an expert in the subject matter. But here are a few tips that you can use to help your kids towards a healthy financial future.

1. Start your child’s financial journey early and start simple.

It’s never too early for your child to start learning foundational pieces of good money habits. While young children under the age of 5 are likely too young to understand abstract financial concepts, they’re already developing a knowledge base that can make deeper dives into finances more seamless as they grow older.

  1. Use a piggy bank
    A piggy bank can be a great way for young children to learn about money. They can begin to identify different coins and learn that some are worth more than others.
  2. Start with the basics
    Have simple conversations with your young ones about the basics of earning and spending. You typically earn money by working, and you need money to buy things. It can also be beneficial to involve your little ones in related tasks. For example, if you deposit work checks using mobile deposit, ask your young one to help you by taking the picture of the check, and tell them what it’s for (money you made for working). Then, on your next grocery run, have them help you pay, and tell them you’re using the money they helped you deposit. They probably won’t understand what the word budgeting means yet, but they’re already learning about it!
  3. Help your child understand Needs vs Wants
    Understanding Needs vs Wants. Balancing needs and wants is an important part of anyone’s budget, and it’s a great concept to teach kids at an early age. Talk to your young one about the differences and see if they can identify each on your next trip to the store.

Open a Children’s Savings Account for your child, and save together

Did you know that children with savings accounts in their names are three times more likely to attend college, regardless of their family’s income level?

The benefits don’t end there, and if they choose not to attend college, the savings can be used for a multitude of future expenses. Additionally, opening an account for your child and saving together instills a healthy habit of saving at an early age. If you’re able to, adopt into your budget a monthly deposit into your child’s account. Even better, make regular trips to the bank or credit union together to make deposits. The more your child is involved in the process, the likelier they are to adopt the habit of saving into their routine later in life.

If you reside in Allegheny County, you can even win monthly prizes just for saving for your child or grandchild. You can learn more about Fund My Future PGH at https://fundmyfuturepgh.org/ . By signing up and making deposits into a savings account for your child, you’re eligible to win from a monthly prize pool of $2,000!

Tips for when Your Child Starts Earning Money/Help your child manage money when they start earning.

Everybody starts earning money at different stages. Some children may start earning money through an allowance at an earlier age, while others might start earning with an employer when they’re teenagers. It’s an exciting and critically important time in their financial journey.

Encourage them to get their first transactional bank account once they start earning money. Many local financial institutions will open custodial accounts for minors. Do research on which account is the right fit for your child. A no overdraft, no minimum balance, no dormancy/inactivity fees account are important features to look out for, and many banks and credit unions offer these features for minors (and for college students). These features lessen the risk of your child incurring account fees as they learn to manage their money. If you’d like to encourage your child to take this suggestion a step further, some local financial institutions even allow minors as young as 14 to open an account completely on their own, without a parent or guardian acting as a custodian. For two such non-custodial accounts that have no overdrafts or monthly maintenance fees, visit https://bankonallegheny.org/youth-banking/

Finding a transactional bank account for your child that is structured in a way that is safe for them allows your child to learn through experience. If they try and make a purchase for something they don’t have sufficient funds for, that’s ok, as their purchase will get declined at the point of sale.

Having a bank account is a critical first step in anyone’s financial journey. It lessens dependency on costly alternative financial services like check cashing and payday lenders, and makes it statistically more likely that a person will increase their savings.

Getting your child started on that journey will pay dividends for a long time!