Insurance Insight: Helping children learn value of saving

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 28, 2002


Most adults will admit that they wish they had learned the “value” of money, and the importance of practicing a “savings habit” at a younger age.

Well, whatever age we may be, the important thing is to make sure we do something about it, rather than just think about it … and then regret not acting.

For those parents reading this column, one of the most useful and sensible habits you can teach your children, is that of developing a “savings habit.” It is extremely important, not to wait, until you think you will have “extra” money to set aside. The important guideline that experts stress over and over is that it is not necessarily the amount set aside that is key (although amount obviously has import), it is the development of a saving habit that is extremely valuable.

First, teach your children about saving money for a specific purpose. The lesson is simple – if you want something, you budget or save for it.

The kids have probably been asking for certain items or toys. Talk to them about the cost, and then discuss how they can save a portion of their allowance or “income” to buy, or help buy, that item after a certain period of time.

Buying things with their own money helps teach the relationship between income and spending and the importance of taking care of what one buys.

The next savings lesson for your child to learn is the lesson of interest accumulation. The financial magic of compound interest is a great lesson to begin to introduce to young people by the late elementary ages. A good first step might be a passbook savings account from your bank. By the time a child is reaching mid-adolescence, it is important they learn the value of setting aside some of income (from allowance, baby sitting, yard mowing, etc.) for longer term savings. It is not financially healthy to spend every cent made.

Also be alert to introducing your children to other investment or savings vehicles – mutual funds, bonds, CDs or money market funds, for example. All of these products have their place and use.

Follow up. Take time to review your children’s bank or mutual fund statements with them.

Over a period of two-three years, they will see for themselves the importance of a regular and consistent saving habit. Get your children interested in saving at a young age, and you will be taking a step toward insuring they have a financially sound future.

JAMES WAGNER JR. is a State Farm insurance agent with an office in LaPlace.