I was recently in the US visiting our daughters and their families. Our four-year-old granddaughter insisted that I bring her a gift every single day. She did not mind how small it was or what it was, but she wanted one.
Despite protests from her parents on the grounds that I would be spoiling her, I decided I would get her a gift to make her happy and at the same time, make it a learning experience.
I bought her a clay Piggy Bank and showed her how to insert coins; gave her a few 10-cent coins to start with. She was thrilled and asked for more. I explained to her that she would only get it when she earned it, like helping her mother do chores or getting a good report from her preschool teacher.
I heard from my daughter later that she took the Piggy Bank to school one day, showed it to her class friends and explained the value of it, much to the delight of her teacher.
Arguably, the most fundamental lesson that can be taught in personal finance is the importance of saving and investing at a young age. It is vital in the process of wealth accumulation.
Children should be taught to save at a young age. The reward would come after the Piggy Bank is full and the money could be used to buy a much-treasured gift followed by the process of filling it up and saving again.
It is important to instill these values in a child when s/he reaches an age of understanding. You will be surprised at how quick they understand and absorb information.
Sadly, in this day and age, where wealth has come easily, many parents or for that matter grandparents, do not give importance to this essential value. Children are given expensive gifts, which they cease to value once they get bored. A good friend gave his young son a Gold American Express credit card on his sixteenth birthday and was quite proud to announce it to us.
We have to start getting our priorities in order; under no circumstances should we have a lifestyle which is way beyond our means.
The problem arises when we see well-to-do friends going on expensive holidays or buying expensive items and we want to do the same. Always keep in mind that whatever we do, our children will learn to do the same.
It is absolutely essential for us to be the right role models to them. Trust me you will reap the benefits one day!