Teaching with intention 

Before you know it, your children will be out of school for summer vacation. While much of their time may be filled with hobbies, sports, camps, part-time jobs and the like, there also might be more family time. And that could be the perfect opportunity to teach them one of the most essential lessons of their financial lives: how to save effectively.     

Of course, as a parent you are constantly teaching by example. When you are out to dinner, at the grocery store, or just shopping online, your children are watching and learning. Being conscious of your attitudes and behaviors could go a long way toward shaping their perceptions about saving.

But you also can intentionally teach key financial behaviors with specific activities.  Here, in honor of April being Financial Literacy month, we offer some activities that help teach saving to children ages 3-22. Developed by our advisors and leading financial educators, these activities build on each other to help children master key concepts and capabilities over the years.

Children as young as 3 can begin to build their saving muscle simply by putting away coins and cash in a piggy bank. From time to time, you can let them spend part of the savings. In this way, you will help them experience a sense of accomplishment in the savings, delayed gratification, and reward for their savings discipline.

As children reach 6 or 7 years old, parents can replace the piggy bank with three glass jars labeled Saving, Spending and Sharing. This exercise can spark some interesting values-based discussions, as the child must now decide between three competing objectives.

There is no “golden ratio”: The split between Saving, Spending and Sharing is entirely up to your family to define. For example, you can view the amount the child puts into the Sharing jar (think philanthropy) as an expression of the family’s values and priorities.

With teenagers, consider involving them in planning for, and building their college fund. Even if your family’s finances don’t require them to contribute to the cost of their college or graduate education, consider:

  1. Having them help identify all their potential expenses (tuition, room and board, books, electronics, travel, etc.)
  2. Discussing with them which of those expenses you expect them to pay
  3. Establishing savings targets and then helping them develop a plan to meet them, via summer jobs or other side activities that do not impede academic performance

Empower your children

It is never too late to start teaching your children about money and wealth. Click here to download your Savings Activities for children ages 3-22 years.

Speak with your J.P. Morgan advisor about opening a savings account in your child’s name.

Also feel free to ask your J.P. Morgan advisor for your copy of Teaching children about wealth—A guide for parents and grandparents

Saving is one of seven key functional skills children should master to support what matters most: making informed decisions in line with your family’s values.

Seven skills needed to master wealth

Kids and wealth infographic: Informed decisions and your family's values