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As we launch into the first week of Financial Literacy Month, Union Savings Bank is introducing a new blog series to celebrate the opportunities and tackle the challenges involved in teaching finance for kids. From the merits of hard work to the importance of giving back, FutureTrack for Kids will cover tips and ideas to help you start conversations about finance for kids of all ages.

Practically born with devices in hand, kids today are the most technologically advanced generation ever. We have a bright future of innovation and discovery with them at the helm. Another product of this aptitude for tech, however, is having more access to things that they want, when they want them. We’ve all heard stories of toddlers playing with cell phones, only to find out later that they ordered 100 action figures online.

Access to shopping and finances online has changed our lives for the better. But do we need to explore new ways to teach children about the balance of work and reward? Starting a dialogue with the kids in your life about the merits of hard work and the results they can gain from it is a great place to begin.

It Can Be All Fun and Games

We’ll dive deeper into how to talk to kids about earning and saving in next week’s FutureTrack for Kids post, but it’s never too early to discuss finance for kids. Beginning with coins or even play money can help give kids a more tangible understanding of money in a digital world. Playing games with money  can help make learning fun, and make the lessons stick. As an added challenge, put devices out of reach to help kids focus and spark conversation.

Chores: More Than a To-Do List

From an early age, chores around the home, school and community can help children learn the importance of responsibility and self-reliance. Rewarding a job well done can mean earning an allowance, receiving praise or building up special privileges. Connecting a task with a reward is an early lesson in work ethic, and in helping children develop a sense of pride in what they do – and in what they earn.

Try This Experiment

What does your morning routine look like? There are probably plenty of hectic mornings when everyone is running out the door in the hopes of getting where they need to go on time (or close to it). Now, think about those mornings when you have a little extra time, every traffic light is green and you even get to treat yourself to a cup of coffee from your favorite café. It changes your whole mood, doesn’t it?

For school-aged children, try creating an after-school daily schedule for kids that accounts for things like any extra-curricular activities, homework, dinner, reading and free time. Make the schedule visible, and consider inviting them to help you make and decorate it. Involving kids in creating their own regular schedule after school can help build early time management skills that will benefit them later in life. A daily schedule for kids after school reinforces responsibility and the value of hard work and free time.

Literacy on finance for kids begins with an open dialogue. Invite questions from your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, students and neighbors. Demonstrating a strong work ethic in the home, around the community and in your own career can help set an example that the kids in your life will carry with them for a lifetime.

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