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“Mom and Dad, I got my first job!”

You will experience a variety of feelings and emotions when you hear those words.

You will be excited for and proud of your child.

After the excitement wears off, you will wonder if your child is prepared to be responsible with the money.

most important financial habit you can teach your kids

You can help your children to be successful with money.

In order to help them, you want them to be prepared before they receive their first pay check.

Role Models

Your children look to you as a role model.  You can tell them what to do.  But more likely, they will watch what you do and then follow your lead in the future.  You can tell them not to litter, but they’ll watch to see what you do when you drop an empty soda cup in a store’s parking lot.  Based on what you did, they will know what to do when they do something similar.

This makes helping your children to be successful with money a challenge.  It is hard for you to show your kids how to be successful with money.  You probably do not receive your paycheck in cash.  And you probably do not have a safe in your home where you put part of your cash for retirement and emergencies.  When you are working on your finances, you are doing paperwork and using your computer or smart device.  When you are being responsible with your money, your kids might think you are doing something else.

Speak the Truth About Money

speak the truth about money

photo credit: honor the gift via photopin cc

You can’t show your children how to be successful with money, but you can tell them.  When you talk with them about money, you don’t tell them what to do.  You talk about how you are being responsible with your money.  You talk about your retirement plan at work and how you are adding to it every time you receive a paycheck.  You talk about how you are paying down your credit card debt with a part of everything you earn.  You talk about how you are building up your emergency fund for life’s little surprises.

You share these ideas over and over again, and you never stop sharing them.  Repetition is the key to learning.

Most people think financial planning starts when you have money to invest.

People who are successful with money know that financial planning starts when you have an income.

Now that your children have an income, you want them to get into financial planning mode.  Being successful with money is a matter of knowing what to do and consistently doing it.  The rules are not that complicated.  You just want to make sure that you are following them consistently.  You want to help your children form the money habits that will serve them for a lifetime.

The Saving Habit

The most important habit that you can help your child form is the saving habit.  You want them to understand that a part of what they earn is theirs to keep.  Some people think in term of income and expenses.  You always want to make sure that your income is greater than your expenses.  Others like to say, “Pay yourself first.”  This means you want to put some money in your savings account before you start spending your income.  No matter how you say it, the key is to make sure that your savings account is growing every month.

If you can get into this one habit, you are well on your way to being successful with money.  After you master this habit, you can direct your savings to achieve your financial goals.  You can start investing for retirement, and you can start putting money into an emergency fund so can handle life’s curve balls.  All other aspects of financial planning flow from this one habit, the saving habit.

When your children get their first jobs, you want them to already know how you are using this crucial habit so that they can exceed.

Are you teaching your kids the saving habit?

Lewie Johnson is the author of Young Money Masters.  Young Money Masters helps teenagers and young adults make good money decisions.  You can learn more about Lewie and Young Money Masters at


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Comments | 5 Responses

  1. says

    My dad always worked hard and provided for the family. The parents didn’t always make the wisest money decisions, but I’m thankful for what they taught me.

    I think I learned the saving habit on my own. I’m not sure why, it’s just always been there.

  2. says

    Setting a good example is the biggest thing my parents did for me, and the best way I learned good money habits. I hope that my wife and I follow through on this for our kids.

  3. says

    My parents were the exact opposite of this! However, I did learn early on to do exactly the opposite of what my parents were doing/saying. So in a way, they did influence my current financial habits. :)

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