How many times have you heard a parent say, “They grow up so fast.” That they do! Our children seem to be growing up faster and faster in this fast-paced world of high technology. I’ve seen three-year-olds using iPads far more efficiently than I can. So when considering how advanced we are as a society, when is the right time to start talking to your children about the importance of saving money? I say as young as possible. They understand a lot more than we think, so the sooner you begin to talk about finances, the better.

1. Make it fun. My son was recently fussing about doing “tons” of math homework. He grumbled that would take a whole 45 minutes. I used this opportunity to add in a financial incentive and make it fun. I offered two-cents for every math problem he completed. There were 50 problems. I didn’t have 100 pennies around, so when he reached ten pennies, I asked him, “What can I give you instead of ten pennies?” He quickly answered, “A dime. As parents, we can use opportunities like this to share about saving and the value of money. By the way, he finished his assignment in 8 minutes, not 45.

2. Don’t buy them everything they want. Children will assign greater value to things they have to earn. When your child wants or asks for something, use it as an opportunity to teach about saving. My son recently expressed a desire for an iPhone. He’s seven, so that wasn’t happening. However, my husband had an old iPhone that would be good for games, so he offered it to our son at a negotiated price. (This learning exercise tackled the art of negotiation and saving!) It’s also the only item he hasn’t lost within three months of receiving, and that is because of the value he places on the phone by having earned the money to pay for it.

3. Teach using spend-save-give. We use Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Junior kit to teach our children the concept of spending, saving and giving. Each time they receive money, they allocate a portion to spending, a portion to saving, and a portion to giving. It has been an excellent tool and our children are very excited about giving to charitable causes and those in need.

Ferguson Jen - BW 3-8-2013As CEO and Founder of Symphony Financial Team, Jennifer Ferguson leads a team of best in class subject matter experts to provide the most comprehensive and coordinated planning for her clients. Jennifer’s primary role is to lead the team to make sure all aspects of the client’s financial house are in order and kept that way, and to protect the client’s vision of the ideal life they want to live. Jennifer has received numerous awards for her business and charitable work, most recently being honored as a nominee for the Orlando Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business award.