This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Navy Federal Credit Union. All opinions are 100% mine. Navy Federal is a federally insured by NCUA.
The conversation with my kids used to start like this:
“Mom, can I have the newest video game console?”
“Mom, I need a virtual reality set!”
“Mom, when can we go on a cruise?”
Do you relate?
I saw conversations like this as a huge opportunity to start teaching my kids about money. Because, at the time, there was little concept of how much things cost and how long it would take to save for something like a virtual reality set or a trip to Disney.
Now things are much better!
5 Smart Money Habits to Teach Military Kids
Teaching kids financial literacy is so important. And starting young is imperative for creating a solid foundation.
For kids, learning about money is a very complex and dynamic topic. I like to look for as many opportunities as possible at home to incorporate money lessons.
1. Allow kids to help with shopping trips.
At least once a month, I will take my kids to the grocery store with a $20 budget to plan and shop for a family dinner.
In a short 30 minute trip, we will accomplish:
- learning to compare prices;
- understanding sale prices vs. regular prices;
- understanding name brand vs. generic;
- staying within a budget;
- addition with decimals;
- rounding and estimation;
- anticipating sales tax;
- and of course, a whole lot more;
This is a money lesson that packs a huge punch! For the most part, the kids are highly engaged and are excited for the challenge. A simple money exercise like this easily translates into shopping for clothes, incidentals, phones, and other things.
Keep it simple or complex based on your child’s age and development. So for a 5-6 year old child who is just starting to learn math, you may head to the store to buy some snacks and only spend $5. For a 7-10 year old child, planning and buying meals is a great option. With teens, you can have them help with weekly grocery trips and eventually they may become completely independent at this.
Fun Fact #1: When I was a junior and senior in high school, I did all the grocery shopping for my family on my own! (More on that in a minute.)
2. Create a hypothetical household budget.
For military kids, this is so timely around PCS season! Even if you’re not moving yourself, your child may have friends who are moving and this will come up.
It becomes a very fun project for kids to see how much it may cost a family to live at a new duty station.
You can include things like:
- Housing expenses
- Utility bills
- Grocery bills
Looking up homes for sale in different areas can also be a very fun and engaging exercise for kids. I like to keep it light and fun, following the child’s lead over time. They will naturally start to think more critically about this as you do the project again over the years.
3. Offer a monthly allotment to pay for incidentals.
There are many ways to handle allowance or allotment with kids. In our home, our kids get their age in dollars each month. For example, my 8 year old gets $8 a month and my 6 year old gets $6 a month. They both divide the money into three categories (you and your child can decide on the amounts allocated to each jar):
The spend jar stays in their bedrooms and is used on things like special snacks at the convenience store, toys or outings. Once enough money is collected in the donate jar, it is shared with a charity, church, family or organization of their choice.
The savings jar gets deposited into their savings accounts with Navy Federal Credit Union to save for something bigger one day.
My kids each have a minor member account and I am a joint owner on both accounts.
This is an especially important way to teach your child smart money habits now.
Right now, you can join Navy Federal Credit Union in celebrating Youth Week with several special offers. They end April 18!
- Open a new minor membership online and get $25 (under 18 years)
- Open a new EasyStart℠ or Special EasyStart Certificate (share only) and earn a $10 bonus (ages 17 and under)
- Open a new Free Campus Checking account and choose digital combined statement delivery to earn a $25 bonus (ages 14-24)
4. Use money games as a learning tool.
There are all sorts of money games to make learning about saving and spending fun for kids! Any time you can make something fun for kids, they learn so much faster.
Top money games for kids include:
- Moneywise Kids Board Game
- Buy It Right
- Game of Life
- Pay Day
5. Teach responsible credit card use.
Everyone uses credit cards nowadays, but when kids see you take a plastic card to pay for something, it’s very abstract and difficult to understand.
Kids are very experiential learners. So when you give a child an opportunity to try something for themselves, they will learn it much faster.
Thankfully there are several safe ways to allow kids to use a credit card.
- Prepaid cards – A safe and secure way to teach your children how to budget and manage the money loaded on their card. You also have the ability to track purchases, account balance and load or re-load funds using your debit or credit card.
- Credit cards – The authorized user feature on a credit account can help teach minors responsible financial habits and build their credit. Parents can set a spending limit on the account while building their child’s credit. (Note: The most common age for becoming an authorized user is 16).
Fun Fact #2: When I was 16 years old, my mom added me as an authorized user on her credit card. This is how I was able to pay for the grocery shopping when I was doing it for my family. Overall, this great experience helped me know how to budget and pay for groceries once I reached young adulthood.
Helping military kids learn smart money habits now is one of the greatest investments you can make in their future.
What are you favorite money habits to teach your kids?
Want more on military kids?
- 16 Inspirational Quotes for Military Kids That Will Make You Smile
- How to Make Your Own Daddy Doll for Kids (Tutorial)
- 10 Books That Will Help Military Kids Prepare for Their Next PCS Move
- The Ultimate PCS Checklist for Changing Schools With Military Kids
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