Teaching Kids About Money: Lessons for Military Families
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Teaching Kids About Money: Lessons for Military Families

July 30th, 2018 | 2 min. read

Knowing how to manage money wisely is one of the most important skills you as a military parent can teach your children. These three basic lessons will help set the stage for a lifetime of healthy finances.

As parents, one of the most important things we can do for our children is teach them good financial habits. After all, if we're not careful, time can slip away and our children will enter adulthood with no experience managing their own finances. Luckily, those qualities that tend to describe military kids–adaptability, responsibility, and resiliency –make them particularly adept at adopting a healthy financial mindset, even at an early age. Use the following lessons as a guide for teaching your children basic financial principles that will help them as they grow into adulthood.

Lesson 1: Earning Money 

Thanks to the rigors of military family life, military kids are, above all, adaptable. This trait comes in handy when identifying age-appropriate opportunities for them to earn their own money. For teenagers, this may involve entrepreneurial efforts around the neighborhood, like mowing yards, dog walking, or babysitting. Or it could involve finding part-time employment on base, like bagging groceries at the PX/NEX, serving fast food, or lifeguarding at the pool. For younger children, you can start by rewarding them for positive things they already do or things you want to encourage them to do, such as helping out with chores around the house, getting good grades, and practicing a sport or instrument. 

Lesson 2: Saving and Budgeting

Once your children understand the importance of earning money, it’s time to capitalize on military kids’ ingrained sense of responsibility to teach them the basics of budgeting and saving. With your guidance, even young children can follow these basic steps:

  • Setup a savings account and help them decide what percentage of their monthly income they should save. 
  • Help them plan a spending budget for the rest of their monthly income.
  • Suggest general spending categories, such as “shopping,” “hanging out with friends,” or “favorite snacks” based on their actual interests. 

These steps will help them see a budget as an organizational tool, instead of something that keeps them from doing what they enjoy.

Lesson 3: Introducing Long-Term Financial Goals

Military families are resilient and this ability stay strong while making sacrifices will help older children and teenagers take the concept of planning and investing for longer-term goals to heart. If possible, start by offering to match the money they save if they agree to keep the money in savings for a certain amount of time. That way, they can understand, firsthand, how compound interest works and how to make their money work for them. And it will give them a great way to save for bigger purchases, such as a new gaming system or even a car.

Helping your children earn their own income and understand how to manage their finances can give them the freedom to participate in their favorite activities or buy the things they want. And it can give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your children will enter adulthood with the basic financial knowledge they need.

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