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Tips To Teach Your Kids Money Smarts

LearnVest •  August 18, 2015 | Home and Family

You send your kids to school to be book-smart. You teach them life lessons so they’ll be street-smart.

But what’s the best way to set them up to be money-smart?

Startup investor and lawyer David W. Bianchi had this very question in mind in 2013 when he set out to learn what his 11-year-old son would be taught about saving, spending and investing in school.

When Bianchi realized that these important topics were absent from the curriculum, he drew up a 10-page primer to share with his son—a document that eventually informed his new book, “Blue Chip Kids: What Every Child (and Parent) Should Know About Money, Investing, and the Stock Market.”

We sat down with Bianchi to get his insights on how parents can inspire financial savvy in young kids—beyond just buying a piggy bank.

LearnVest: At what age should you start talking to your kids about good money management?

David Bianchi: “It’s never too soon to broach the topic—but parents should remember it’s their responsibility to do so. It’s unrealistic to expect a kid to jump out of bed on a Saturday morning and say, ‘Can we please talk about financial matters?’

So how can parents ease kids into money conversations?

Find a way to incorporate lessons into your daily life. Little things—while perhaps not terribly important in and of themselves—can collectively add up and provide a significant benefit over time.

For example, when my credit card bills come in, I show them to my son, Trent, so he can see what my wife and I’ve spent every month. This makes the connection between watching us hand someone a credit card and the charge showing up on the bill.

We also play a game at restaurants, where we never turn over the bill until all three of us independently guess the total. Trent loves it because he tries to win every time. That’s just another thing we do to show him what things really cost.

You devoted many of the lessons in your book to investing. Why is this an important topic for kids to learn?

History has shown that you get the best rate of return if you invest in the stock market and don’t just keep your money in cash. And if you let those returns compound over time—and refrain from touching your money—that’s how you can really build wealth.

I want kids to know to put money in the stock market—not a piggy bank.

How you can make investing exciting for kids?

You can’t just say investing is good for the future—you need to relate it to right now.

For example, after helping Trent invest in some stock that he researched, we went to the Apple store and bought him a computer. We told him we would pay for it using part of the profits he had generated from his stock selection.

Through this experience he learned that if you manage your money well, and make smart investments, you can use that money to buy neat stuff.

What’s one big money takeaway you want kids and parents alike to understand?

Studies have shown that kids who’ve had a financial education before graduating high school will have much better attitudes about money later in life. They’re less likely to take on debt, more likely to actively manage the money that goes in and out of a checking account, and they save more.

There’s nothing bad that can come from starting a financial education early—it’s only good.”

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LearnVest, Inc. is owned by NM Planning, LLC, a subsidiary of The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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