How to Teach Your Kids about Investing

Financial literacy is a crucial life skill, yet it’s often overlooked in traditional education. One of the most empowering things we can teach our children is how to handle money wisely, and a key component of that is understanding investing. If you know how to teach your kids about investing, they’ll be set up for a more stable future. This guide will help you navigate this important conversation about investments and personal finance.

Starting with the Basics of Financial Literacy

Before diving into investing, start with the basics of financial literacy. Explain what money is and how it works. Introduce them to concepts such as money management, budgeting, and saving. Teach them about the importance of financial planning, setting goals and making responsible spending choices.

Make sure they understand that money is finite—you have to make choices about what to spend it on, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. By starting with the basics of financial literacy, you provide your kids with the necessary knowledge and skills to make informed decisions and navigate the world of investing confidently.

Open a Savings Account

Next, introduce the idea of saving. Open a savings account for your child and talk about the importance of setting aside a portion of their allowance or birthday money. Show them how their money can grow over time through interest.

To get them started really early, it can help to set up a custodial account. A custodial account is an account that you control for them until they reach adulthood, and sets them up with some capital so they can start an investment account on their own.

Ideally, you’ll want to have a custodial brokerage account, a savings account, and others so they’ll also be ready with financial literacy in adulthood. Having multiple custodial accounts can also be an example of diversification for your kids.

Once they grasp these concepts, you can introduce basic economic principles. Discuss supply and demand, using examples they can relate to, like toy trends or the cost of their favorite candy.

They can also define their own quantifiable financial goals. You can open these conversations at any time. Even casual dinner table conversations can be a time to learn.

Learn how to teach your kids about investing

Teaching the Concept of Investing

With the basics covered, you can start teaching children about investing. Simply put, investing is buying something with the expectation that it will increase in value. Investing allows you to make your money work for you, rather than just keeping it in a savings account. It’s a way to build wealth and achieve financial goals by taking calculated risks and making smart choices.

By understanding investing at a young age, children can develop responsible money management habits, learn about the power of compounding, and appreciate the value of long-term financial planning. It can help your kids achieve their dreams and create a better future for themselves.

The Fundamental Aspects of Investing

When it comes to investing, there are a few fundamental aspects that are important to understand. These aspects form the building blocks of a solid investment strategy and can help individuals make informed decisions about their money.

One fundamental aspect of investing is understanding the power of compounding. This refers to the ability of an investment to generate earnings, which are reinvested to generate even more earnings. Teaching individuals about compounding can help them grasp the importance of starting to invest early and allowing their investments to grow over time.

Another key concept to teach is diversification. Diversifying investments involves spreading money across different asset classes, such as stocks, bonds, real estate, and commodities. Individuals can reduce the potential impact of any single investment performing poorly. It helps to mitigate risk and provides the opportunity for potential growth in various areas.

Remember that investing always involves some level of risk. Understanding the concept of risk and reward is crucial for making informed investment decisions. You can learn more about teaching risk and reward later on in this guide.

Use Stories to Teach Investing

Remember: kids love stories! Explain investing in a way that they’ll understand. Use relatable examples, such as buying a pack of seeds (investment) to grow a plant that produces fruit (return).

Discuss different types of investments, including stocks (owning a small piece of a company), bonds (lending money to a company or government), and real estate (investing in property). Use simple language and analogies they can understand.

Remember, when using stories to teach kids about investing, make sure to simplify complex concepts, use age-appropriate language, and reinforce key messages throughout the narrative. By combining imagination with financial lessons, these stories can inspire children to develop good financial habits and set them on a path toward a successful financial future.

Try Real-World Examples

Another great way of teaching investing is showing kids how they can observe it in the real world. For instance, buying stock in a company is like buying a slice of a giant pizza. The bigger the slice (the more shares you own), the more pizza (profits) you get. But if nobody likes the pizza (the company doesn’t do well), your slice might become less valuable.

Use investing in real estate to explain how properties can appreciate in value over time and generate rental income. Engage them in discussions about buying, selling, and managing these properties as long-term investments.

Explain the concept of investment trust funds, where kids can pool their money with other investors to invest in a diversified portfolio managed by professionals. This allows children to understand how their investments can grow over time with the help of experts.

Mathematics also plays a big part in helping kids invest. Teaching them about compound interest — and how rapidly it scales — can help show them the value of investing.

One fun example of teaching kids compounding interest at an early age is the doubling penny exercise: if they start with a penny, and it doubles every day, how much will they have after a year?

Research Investments

Encourage research and analysis when teaching your children about investing. Teach them how to research and analyze investments. Show them how to read financial statements, evaluate company performance, and consider market trends. Encourage critical thinking and decision-making based on sound analysis rather than emotional impulses.

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How to Teach Your Kids About Investing: Practical Lessons

Now that your child understands the basics, help them apply these lessons. Set up a mock investment portfolio. You could use play money to “buy” shares in companies they’re interested in, like toy manufacturers or entertainment companies.

Use Educational Resources to Practice Investing

There are also several stock market games and simulations available to help you teach investing. You could use online investment simulation games that mimic real-life market conditions. Track the progress of these virtual stock markets together, discussing why certain stocks are performing well or poorly.

Utilize educational resources, books, websites, or even online courses that focus on investing for young adults. These resources can provide additional knowledge, insights, and interactive tools to enhance their understanding.

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Try Out a Real Investment Account

If your child has savings, encourage them to start a real investing account. An investment account is like a special savings account that helps them grow their money over time. These investments have the potential to earn you more money in the long run.

Instead of just keeping their money in a regular bank account, you can help them invest a small portion in a real stock, bond, or mutual fund (with your guidance and oversight, of course). Monitor their progress together and discuss the outcomes to reinforce learning.

Experiencing the process firsthand can be incredibly educational. If they start investing early, your child’s investments can teach them to manage their own stocks and start earning money at a young age.

Teaching Risk and Reward in Personal Finance

Investing isn’t just about making money—it also involves risk. It’s important to teach kids that while investments can grow, they can also decrease in value. Understanding the volatility of investment accounts is critical to money management!

You can compare investing to a roller coaster ride. Just like riding a roller coaster, investing can have ups and downs. Some days, your investments may go up, and other days they may go down. But over time, the ride tends to go up, representing the overall growth of your investments.

Explain this in terms they can understand. For example, imagine they want to sell lemonade. They’ll need to buy supplies (investment), but there’s no guarantee people will buy their lemonade (risk). If they sell lots of lemonade, they could make more money than they spent (reward). But if they don’t sell much, they might lose money.

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Starting With Small Businesses

Teach them about diversification, or spreading their investments across different types of assets to manage risk. Using the lemonade stand example, diversification might look like selling cookies as well. That way, if the lemonade doesn’t sell, they might still make money from the cookies.

A small product-based business like selling lemonade, cookies, or other refreshments can help them learn the value of their earned income. It can also teach children about the importance of cash flow.

Also, emphasize the importance of long-term investing. While it can be exciting to watch stocks rise and fall, investing isn’t about making a quick buck. It’s about growing wealth over time. By consistently building wealth, your kids can increase their financial resilience and achieve their long-term goals and aspirations in the long run.

If they feel up to the challenge, the stock market is a good place to explain the idea of volatility, risk, and reward. You can use your own brokerage account if you have one as an example.

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Inculcating Good Financial Habits

Teaching kids good financial habits is crucial for their future financial well-being. Setting an example by practicing smart financial habits yourself will also have a significant impact on their behavior.

Emphasize the importance of saving. Teach them to set savings goals, whether it’s for a special toy or a future expense. Provide them with a designated place to save their money and encourage them to track their spending and progress toward their goals.

Encourage both regular saving and investing. Just as they should set aside money for savings, they should also set aside money for investments. This habit can set them up for financial success in adulthood.

Involve your children in family conversations about money and financial planning. This helps normalize discussions around finances and instills a sense of responsibility and awareness.

Stress the importance of doing research before investing. They should understand a company’s business model and performance before buying its stock, just as they’d want to know about a toy’s features and reviews before buying it.

Everything Takes Time

Finally, teach your child about patience and discipline from a young age. Having these financial conversations at a young age helps children achieve financial independence later on.

Investments need time to grow, and there will be ups and downs along the way. But with patience and a steady course, they’re likely to see positive returns in the long run.

Another good habit is to teach your child when to pay bills, pay taxes, and other elements of good money management. It can also help to enroll them in mutual funds or to teach them the value of having multiple savings accounts.

Older children might be able to understand the concepts of tax benefits and other financial concepts as well. As they reach different age milestones, gradually introduce more complex financial concepts and responsibilities, such as budgeting, distinguishing between wants and needs, and making informed financial decisions.

Remember, teaching children about investments requires ongoing guidance, discussion, and hands-on experience. By empowering them with financial knowledge and skills, you are equipping them to make informed decisions and build a solid foundation for their financial future.

Start Teaching Kids About Investments!

Understanding investing is a powerful tool your child can carry into adulthood. By starting these conversations at a young age, you’re not just teaching them about money—you’re helping them build confidence, develop critical thinking skills, and establish a solid financial future.

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Teaching kids about investing fosters financial independence and resilience. It equips them with the knowledge and tools to navigate the complex world of personal finance confidently. They become less reliant on others for financial support and are better equipped to handle unexpected situations and economic challenges.

And it’s never too late to get them started on their own retirement account! As they get older, you can teach them more complex concepts, or even enroll them in a personal finance class. The best time to help kids learn to build wealth is now.

Ready to kickstart your child’s financial education? There’s no better time than now to set them up for adult life. Start with a casual conversation today, and who knows? You might be nurturing the next Warren Buffet.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Question: What age should I start teaching my child about investing their own money?Answer: There’s no specific age, but it’s a good idea to start introducing basic financial concepts as soon as they can understand them. This might be as early as preschool, with more complex ideas like investing introduced in late elementary or middle school.
  2. Question: Are there any books that can help me teach my kids about investing?Answer: Yes, there are numerous children’s books that introduce the concept of investing, such as “Go! Stock! Go!” by Bennett Zimmerman and “The Little Red Hen” by Paul Galdone.
  3. Question: How can I make learning about investing fun for my kids?Answer: Use games or apps that simulate investing, like Monopoly or investment simulation games online. You can also relate concepts to their interests. They can purchase stocks in a company that makes their favorite video games.
  4. Question: Should I give my child real money to invest?Answer: If you’re comfortable with it and your child is ready, this can be a great learning experience. Start small, and monitor the investments with them. The sooner they learn to manage their own stocks, the more money they can make. Having an actual brokerage account can help them.
  5. Question: How do I explain complex investment terms to my child?Answer: Break down terms into simpler language and use analogies. For instance, you could compare diversifying investments to picking different rides at an amusement park—if one ride breaks down, there are still others to enjoy.
  6. Question: Can teaching my child about investing help them in school?Answer: Definitely! Understanding investing involves math, critical thinking, and research skills. It also promotes financial literacy, a key life skill not always taught in schools.
  7. Question: How can I teach my child about socially responsible investing?Answer: Discuss how some companies not only aim to make profits but also contribute positively to society. Explain that investing in these companies can support causes they care about.
  8. Question: What if my child makes a bad investment decision?Answer: That’s okay—it’s all part of the learning process. It’s better for them to make mistakes now, with small amounts of money, than later in life. Use it as a teaching moment to discuss what went wrong and how to make better decisions in the future.
Kathy Urbanski

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