How Mint Can Teach Your Child Financial Responsibility
Teaching kids anything at an early age is preferable to starting the lessons too late, as children absorb and retain knowledge far more readily than adults.
The same idea applies when we're talking about financial responsibility. A child learning good monetary habits during their formative years will likely do better budgeting and saving for their future than somediv who spent, spent, spent until their mid-30s and then suddenly realized "oh boy, time to get serious."
Unfortunately, scant few states are promoting good personal finance skills in their students.
The 2013 National Report Card on State Efforts to Improve Financial Literacy in High Schools concluded that out of 50 states, only seven had enough of a comprehensive and demanding financial literacy program to warrant giving them an A.
In this case, an A means those states "require a standalone personal-finance course or that personal-finance topics be included in another mandatory course. In either case, the students' personal-finance knowledge is assessed."
So if you live in Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Missouri, Tennessee, Utah or Virginia, your children are likely developing in good financial shape.
The other 43 states range from "not bad, but a lack of required year-end assessment renders classroom time largely meaningless," all the way down to "we might as well just make the state flag a picture of a Wheel of Fortune contestant spinning Bankrupt."
So what can you do if your child's school system isn't interested in teaching them how to save and then save some more? Help them learn on their own!
One quick and easy way to get the lesson across is by using Mint.com's budgeting system and showing them how and why it works every step of the way.
As chaotic as they seem to be at times (OK, almost all the time) most kids actually do learn very well if something is broken down in an organized, easy-to-understand manner.
And that's what Mint's system is all about -- simplicity. All you have to do is provide the required information -- your income, your bills, estimated gas and food bills, how much you wish to save every month, and Mint puts it all together into one shiny, pretty spreadsheet.
But it's not simply "type in preliminary numbers and then figure out the rest yourself." No, this system does everything for its user.
If you buy $50 worth of groceries (or your kid orders $50 worth of pizza because it's playoff hockey night), simply tap that amount into Mint's system, and it will deduct that from your food budget.
This way you can see how much you have left, and in the case of your pizza-loving kiddo, it can also help them realize that paying that much for what's ultimately a little bit of food is a bad idea unless it's done once in a great, great, great while (such as your team facing down Game 7 of the Stanley Cup.)
Seeing their allotted food budget get slashed by so much in such a short period of time can very likely trigger a revelation in their heads that food budgeting is about buying as much food as possible for as little money as possible.
$50 for 4 large pizzas, or $50 for ten full bags of foodstuffs that you can use to create more foodstuffs? Even a kid could figure out which option is financially better.
In addition, everything you ever put into Mint is available for future viewing.
That way, you can access your budgets from the past, and compare them with what you're doing now. This can be a great learning tool for your budding baby dumpling, as they can see how they've been improving budget-wise over the years.
They used to make stupid mistakes that drove the family's budget well into the negatives, but now they understand the need for frugality and resisting the temptation to blow all their money on the first thing their id points to screams "WANT! WANT NOW!"
Get your child's financial education started today. Click here to access Mint's online budgeting system and declare class in session!