The recent instability of the world economy has created a societal shift, with a new mantra being sung by people of all ages, class and gender – cheap is chic. With this change, fiscal responsibility is top of mind, particularly for busy families with multiple priorities.
Meanwhile, as parents get themselves sorted out in times of uncertainty, teaching kids about responsible money behaviour is a step that not all moms and dads consider at an early age, if at all.
“We think it’s never too early to start learning about money. Teaching kids money skills at an early age will help better prepare them to make wise financial decisions in the future,” says Peter Aceto, President and CEO of ING DIRECT Canada. “When kids are aware of the concept of saving it might even be easier for parents to explain why they don’t necessarily need to buy every new toy that comes out – but when they want to [buy something], [they] learn how to save up for it.”
In order to educate children on money best practices, parents themselves need to get comfortable enough with the topic to bring any value to the topic for their kids. Being open with each other, getting on track with a budget, eliminating bad debts like credit card and other high interest loans, and saving up for a rainy day are just some of the steps parents should ensure they are doing before doling out money education to their children.
While the topic of money might seem like a dry topic of conversation for kids to engage with, financial institutions like ING DIRECT are learning to encourage fun and interactive ways to help parents teach about saving, how to spend wisely, and how to better prepare for real-life situations that bring about unexpected expenses. In ING DIRECT’s case, their online website, Planet Orange, helps kids learn about money through activities that present them with various scenarios where they have to spend or save, develop a budget, and apply their learned knowledge to make the best decision possible.
“The key is tailoring the lesson to the child’s interests and keeping them engaged with practical, real life situations,” explains Aceto. “The most important thing to keep in mind is to have fun with it. Kids want to be entertained and excited about everything they do.”
“Another important tip is to keep it simple,” Aceto says. “Kids will benefit from learning through simple examples that are of interest to them. As their knowledge progresses, the examples should become more detailed or challenging in order to keep them engaged and help develop further understanding.”
This summer, ING DIRECT is holding a Planet Orange contest that gives kids the opportunity to win great prizes, including cash, a piggy bank that reinforces the concepts of saving, spending, investing and giving and book about money – all geared towards kids. Find more information about the contest at www.ingdirect.ca/contest.