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We know the questions about money and finances may start to come up with your child around the time they around the time that your child enters middle school: Do I get an allowance? Will you buy me the newest iPhone? Why or why not? How much will college cost and who will pay for it?
At Crimson Rise, we know it is important for parents to begin to address financial literacy with their middle school students - but how do you do it in an accessible, educational way?
Here are our top 5 tips for teaching your middle schooler about money:
1) Discuss household expenses openly – As previous blog entries have suggested, being a role model goes a long way when it comes to teaching life lessons to middle school aged students. Given their math skills have likely expanded to include simple and compound interest by now, not present a case study using your own household expenses for them to see that not every dollar earned can be spent on something “fun”? Sit you child down and explain how much money goes to things such as rent/mortgage, car payments, healthcare, taxes, insurance, groceries, education, household necessities, an emergency fund, a vacation fund, savings, and finally, what can be allocated to fun events such as cinema outings, video games, etc. This will help your middle schooler become aware of expenses that they too will face as adults and get them to appreciate how complicated that process can be.
2) Teach your child the value of earning money – Teach your child that it takes effort, skill, and the provision of a service to earn income. Whether you decide to help them develop a dog walking business in the neighborhood, sell old toys via EBay or a garage sale, reward them with extra money for a stellar report card, or come up with a “chore menu,” teaching your child the value of working will also help them master skills that will later be useful in, say, their first internship or job in a few years to come!
3) Give a reasonable allowance – Consider creating an allowance system or your child and be clear about what it entails - depending on your personal limitations and boundaries. It’s better to start with a smaller allowance for a smaller list of things it covers (ie movie tickets with friends, grabbing an ice cream on a warm day, etc) and eventually you can expand allowance to teach them more responsibilities with budgeting, including an allowance for new clothing items that are not school uniform related, a set amount for lunch money each week, etc. Do not badger your child about every expense they make but rather help them in budgeting it out in a way to cover their wants and needs within reason. This works well paired with point 2 incase they want to earn more money for a larger purchase.
4) Learn through play – There are many budgeting apps, like Mint, Greenlight. FamZoo etc, which are great for visualizing income and spending. Also, fun, light-hearted games like Monopoly can help start meaningful conversations about how to spend money and the consequences of having too little or spending unwisely. Learning can also happen in the supermarket, by showing your child how you plan grocery purchases for the week ahead, when you decide to buy sale items, and when you splurge for nicer foods / treats.
5) Expand learning beyond the classroom – Khan Academy is a wonderful resource for learning about real life financial challenges in the context of math problems. They have lessons that cover everything from how a paycheck is broken down to how to convert international currencies.
Overall, teaching your middle schooler about money is an investment in and of itself. By starting this conversations early, you are helping your child develop lifelong skills that most school curricula fall short on.
Curious about what other skills a middle schooler should master? Reach out and enquire about Crimson Rise today!
Your friendly neighbourhood Rise blogger,
Learn more about Crimson Rise’s strategic mentorship, academic support, and extracurricular coaching for young students, and request a free consultation on your child’s journey!