Don’t you just wish you had been taught about financial responsibility when you were much younger? In our rapidly changing world, it has never become more imperative to teach our children the need for handling money well.

In fact, it’s such an important skill that it will guide their decisions well into adulthood. If you’re able to do a good job with the lessons now, your children will look back and be grateful to you as a parent. And in getting this done, there’s no better time to start than now —your child is never too young to begin.

It’s important for kids to get savvy about spending wisely, saving and the value of giving to others.

Delayed gratification —an important lesson

When I mention that there’s one basic lesson to teach your kids about financial responsibility, I mean that at the heart of every financial decision you’re getting your child ready to handle in their future is one basic fundamental lesson, which is ‘delayed gratification’.

Delayed gratification is learnt from deciding to do a chore now and watching TV later. It is about eating up two candy bars now or keeping one till tomorrow.

You see, for the most part, the concept of saving money and spending wisely is more about learning to wait for something versus getting it now. Financial discipline is first of all the ability to spend less than you earn (which requires proper budgeting and sticking to it) and secondly, being able to put that excess in the budget away over a period of time (savings).

How do you help your child to be financially disciplined with the concept of delayed gratification?

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Start early

Children form their habits based on what we expose them to. They are influenced by their environment and learn from the things they see on a regular basis. If you let your children understand that it may not always be the best thing to get something now, they grow with that lesson and it becomes easier as time goes on.

For instance, I hear a lot of parents say they don’t like to go to the supermarket with their kids because they are afraid of the demands to buy something that’s not on the budget.

If you train your kids that we do not always get what we want when we want them, they learn to respect those boundaries you’ve put in place.

Teach by example

Children learn by example. They’ll do whatever they see you do. There’s a need to model this concept for the children in everyday living. Use regular situations of life to let your children understand the need to wait for things. They can either decide to get something now or get it later.

Showing them the benefits of waiting can aid them in their decision to wait for something they love. Let them see that waiting is better. The way you conduct yourself on decisions that have to do with spending and savings will impact on your kids.

Don’t shy away from discussing money matters with them.

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Encourage savings

Let your kids learn to save every part of any amount that comes through their hands, no matter how small. Teaching your kids to save is an integral part of helping them to understand the concept of delayed gratification. They can save towards the future or simply towards a desired gift or toy.

Teaching your kids to understand delayed gratification is a gradual process and they will learn as long as you remain consistent in your teaching.

Self-control is a gradual process for your kids and they will get there. Just be firm and compassionate about it. They’ll thank you later.

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