It is really important to make sure that your children have a good financial education. This will enable them to be able to manage their money sensibly when they are older. Managing money is so important because it can help you to be able to afford what you need and want, will mean you do not get into uncontrollable debt and you live within your means. In order to be able to do this we all need to know how. There is limited teaching in school about this sort of thing and so it is really handy if parents can reinforce this teaching as well. But knowing when to start can be tricky.
Infants have a limited understanding of maths and therefore they cannot be expected to understand money in too much depth. However, they will be able to understand some concepts. For example, as they start to learn to count, they will be capable of counting coins. If you start with coins that are worth just one such as pennies or pound coins that will be easy. They should learn in school about the different value of coins and you can help them with this as well. You can even start to show them how you pay for things with coins in shops and get change. This is again something that they will learn in school, but actually seeing the real coins and doing it for themselves can really help them see the practical application.
As they get older they may start to want pocket money or get money for their birthdays. This will be an opportunity to talk to them about saving money. It is great to tell them why it is advantageous to save money for the future, but also to show them how to save up for more expensive items that they might want. It can also be a time when you can start showing them the prices of things that you buy. So when you are in shops with them, show them how much things cost. Also, it can be good to start talking about household expenses as well.
Things can get trickier with teenagers. They will probably expect pocket money and want lots of expensive things because their friends have them. They will not think about the cost to you and may not be interested in talking about finance with you. However, do try to get in when you can with some information for them. Keep showing them prices, discussing household finances and encouraging them to save. If they are looking to go to university, then outlining the costs of this to them can be very useful as it will allow them to understand the importance of saving. They will be old enough to understand about loans as well. It will be important to talk to them about student loans, but also about overdrafts, credit cards and loans because they will be exposed to these and able to use them as soon as they are eighteen and they therefore need to know about the advantages and disadvantages.
It is easy to think that once our children reach adulthood there will be no more for them to learn, but this is not correct. We are always learning and there will always be wisdom that parents can pass on to their children. The approach may need to be a bit different but hopefully they will feel that they can talk to you about money, because you have always been open with them about it as they grew up. It can be a worry for parents if they feel that their children are struggling and if they can help it can feel good.
It is not always easy to discuss money with your children. This is especially true if you feel that you are not good with money and you want to hide that form them. Try not to do this though, but explain to them why they should strive to be in control of their money and not let it control them. Point them towards lessons you have learned and changes that you wish you could make in your spending habits which you hope that they will be able to do. Just because you might not be in control of your money it does not mean that you do not have useful things to pass on to your children about how they should be with their money. Be confident that you will be able to help them but also look for help. There are useful resources online as well as books that you might be able to use to help you to teach them. Do not rely on school to do it all as there is not enough time in the curriculum to cover more than the basics.