Are you the parent of a tween? If so, then you know what an exciting and transformative time this is. You might feel like your little one is not so little anymore.
As your tween gains independence and becomes more capable of taking on new responsibilities, this can be an ideal time to impart important money lessons.
For better or worse, most of what kids learn about money comes from their families. That's right, it comes from you! This can be stressful for many parents who want to teach their kids about money but don't know where to start.
Luckily, you don't have to rely on your financial knowledge alone. There are amazing experts who are willing to share their top financial advice for tweens. Check out what these seven financial experts had to say.
Gamify financial concepts
Make learning about money fun with a family game night. This is what Eddie Baker, financial advisor and investment expert, says works for his tween. Baker plays Monopoly with his son every week as a way to introduce and discuss the concepts of cash flow and investments, the value of patience, and the power of diversifying your sources of income.
"You cannot win Monopoly by owning just one big property," Baker says, a lesson he imparts to his son during their board game fests. He relates it to real life, explaining that you don't get rich by owning one big mansion—you need a mixture of investments and assets to make it big.
Let them make mistakes
"I used to let my son buy things he later regretted," says Miranda Marquit, MBA and financial writer, noting that she turned those mistakes into teachable moments. "We would talk about the feelings around buying something he didn't really care for because he could, as opposed to saving money and buying something he really wanted."
Marquit says that allowing her son to make these small mistakes early on helped him to become a more conscientious spender later.
Encourage your tweens to make money
Indeed, one of the best ways to help your tween learn about money is to encourage them to earn some of their own, advises Jeff Rose, Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and father. Whether it's washing a neighbor's car, watering their plants, or picking weeds, there are age-appropriate jobs your tweens can take on.
Rose went on to explain all of the practical skills that can develop within a tween on the job. "I love this for my kids because it teaches them so many lessons: deciding on a service they can offer, approaching neighbors and selling their service, delivering while providing good customer service, and marketing their service to others."
Let your tween keep the change
As a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) and high school personal finance teacher, Rob Phelan knows a thing or two about kids and money. He recommends giving your tween more responsibility when it comes to paying for family purchases.
"Let them order the food the next time you go out. Or, if you are doing back-to-school shopping, give them a budget for a few items they need and let them figure out how to make it work," he suggests. "As they get older and more experienced, increase the sum of money."
Phelan also recommends letting your kids keep the change after they make a purchase. "This will help give them the experience of planning purchases, thinking about value and budgets, conducting a transaction at a store, and making their own purchasing decisions," he explains. "If they can keep the money they save, they will start looking for deals, bargains, and utility versus appearance to save money."
Provide hands-on money experience
Riley Adams, a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and senior financial analyst at Google, believes it's important for tweens to handle real money before moving to a digital form of currency like a debit card for kids. As in, actually handling it—feeling the coins and bills with their own hands.
"This makes money more real and less like numbers on a screen," he explains. Adams believes this strategy can help kids pause and think before taking action and affect how they handle—and move—their money in the future.
Avoid financial lectures
If you want to get through to your tween about money, step away from your soapbox. Doug Milnes, CFA and father of two tweens, says that at this age (6 to 11 years old), it's "about exposure, some questions and answers, but no lectures."
Milnes shares that one way he sets his kids on the path to financial literacy is by letting them look over all of their family receipts. This can help them begin to understand what things cost in the real world.
"We don't make any commentary unless someone asks a question." Instead, it's just about the exposure, he adds.
Practice delayed gratification
"Delayed gratification is the magic you are looking for here as a parent," says John Marsano, CEO and president at the Florida-based Inheritance Advanced. His advice: Give your tween a butterfly hatchery.
Since it takes caterpillars about a month to change into chrysalides and then flickering monarchs, this is a perfect opportunity to teach your tween patience, says Marsano. While your tween waits for their caterpillars to turn into butterflies, he suggests assigning them simple tasks like stocking fresh food, keeping the area moist, and cleaning up after the caterpillars.
"Reward your child with a dollar or two as each phase of development passes so they can stay motivated," Marsano says. It's a fun way to use nature to help your kids learn about money as they also cultivate patience.
It's all about the experience
When it comes to teaching your tween about money, experience is key. You don't need to have all of the answers. Focus on providing opportunities for your kids to learn and make mistakes.
As these experts can attest, it can be as simple as playing a game, sharing your shopping receipts, or allowing your tween to make a purchase all on their own. It's these everyday experiences that will help to create financially confident and knowledgeable kids.