Here are some great resources to help you look financially forward, from planning for your first child to empowering your kids to make their own decisions and teaching them to value their money before it leaves their hands.
Planning for Baby
Children bring joy to your life and more expenses to your budget than you ever thought possible. It will cost nearly a quarter of a million dollars to raise a child born in 2013 to age 18 (U.S. Department of Agriculture). And that doesn’t include the cost of college.
If you’re thinking about having children, it’s best to know what’s ahead and to have a plan.
Determine the approximate cost of your prenatal care and birth. Your doctor’s office and health insurance provider can help you with this. Note that services may be billed separately (ex. hospital facility charges, doctors’ time, mother and baby’s care, etc), so be sure you’re getting estimates on the full gamut of charges you’ll incur.
You’re going to need a lot of stuff for this baby, but it doesn’t have to be uber-expensive. Save more and spend less:
- Ask other parents for advice on the must-haves, but take the advice with a grain of salt.
- Borrow instead of buy, especially for items that will be outgrown quickly.
- Shop garage sales and second hand stores for gently used children’s items and maternity wear.
- Consider spending more on items that you’ll use longer, such as a high chair or crib.
The biggest weekly expense for most parents is child care. When forging plans for child care, consider whether you can you afford to reduce work hours or leave your job, if interested. Use our calculator to help you determine this. If you know you’ll need child care, determine the number of hours per week and whether your child care schedule will be consistent or if it will need flexibility. To save on child care costs, perhaps consider a child care cooperative.
Know whether your employer offers a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) for healthcare-related or childcare-related expenses. Funds in an FSA can be used to pay for certain eligible medical, dental and child care expenses. And FSAs have tax advantages too – you aren’t taxed on the earnings you deposit into an FSA, but you must spend your balance by a certain date or you lose it.
Teaching Children to Save
Dupaco encourages parents to start teaching their children how to save at a young age. Even toddlers can learn to save by teaching them in a way they’ll understand. As your child grows, you can introduce more advanced strategies for saving.
Make saving a habit. An easy way to save is to pay yourself first. That means each time your child receives money, teach them to put some in a savings account.
Help them set goals and prioritize. Write out a wish list of things they are saving for and help them prioritize that list by encouraging them to think long term. Help them allocate how much money will go into their savings so they can reach their goals. This will teach them systematic saving by paying themselves first consistently by making savings a priority before they are tempted to spend their earnings.
Help your child track their savings. People who keep track of their savings often end up saving more, because they have it on their minds. Whether it’s watching their savings account grow or filling up their piggy banks, watching that amount increasing can be fun and motivating for children.
Set up a homegrown investment. To encourage your child to save and reinforce saving behavior, you could offer to match your child’s contributions to their savings account.
Talk about money. Teach your child to be cash-conscious by talking about money. In the age of plastic cash, it’s especially important to teach your child the value of a dollar.
Encourage your child to save for a longer time period. Ask your child to save money for items that require saving over a longer time period. Encourage them to save for the future rather just than saving for a short time and then spending their savings immediately.
Teach them how to comparison shop. Teach other ways to save money on top of paying themselves first. Browsing coupons and shopping around to compare prices can save money too! Teach them to make mindful purchases by asking why before they buy to avoid impulse spending. By slowing down the purchasing process, sometimes that item they really want right now may not be something they want a week from now.
Lead by example. Children learn best by watching what their parents do. Talk to your children about how you save and make saving a priority in your life also. The most important part of teaching your child how to save is to lead by example and save for the future yourself as well. Dupaco has some great tools that can help you budget and save.
If your child doesn’t have his or her own Dupaco savings account, you can open an account with as little as $25. With his or her own savings account, your child will begin to learn the value of saving, and will have fun earning prizes and participating in activities just for DoPack Club members!
Teaching Smart Spending Habits
Talking to your child about where money comes from (that it doesn’t grow on a tree or magically appear in your wallet) will help them understand why it’s important to be mindful about using it. By teaching your child that money is earned, you are empowering them to make smart decisions on where that money goes when it’s in their hands.
- Set a cap for an amount to spend.
- Empower them to choose how they spend it.
- Explain how you weigh your options and make choices about how you spend, save and share.
- Discuss the differences between a want versus a need. Explain to them how you spend your money each money, setting aside most of it for necessities like food and clothing before using it for fun.
- Make a shopping list with your child and stick to it in the store to teach your child to avoid impulse buying.
- Guide your child through the shopping decision process weighing pros and cons of the items they would like to buy.
- Clip coupons and comparison shop. Teach them about buying generic brands and the option to thrift shop.
- Practice creating a basic budget.
- Encourage them to spend their money on something that they really want and then help them figure out how much they need to save each month in order to reach their goal.
- Hold them accountable for their decisions.
- Teach by example. Children develop their attitudes and habits by observing their parents’ actions.
- Explain how debit and credit cards work but be sure to emphasize that the money is coming out of their bank account or money that they have to pay back.
- Discuss ways that they can earn extra money like baby-sitting or mowing lawns.
- Have a garage sale and let your child help with pricing items and then let them keep the money they earned from selling their old items.
- Begin teaching them about researching items they want to buy and making informed decisions.
- Encourage them to start a Money Diary to help them pay attention to where their money goes.
- Help them through the process of setting up a monthly budget.
- Teach them how to be a frugal shopper.
- Help them open up a checking account and teach them how to use it for managing their money.
- Start talking about what investing means.
- Let them make mistakes and help them understand what they can do differently in the future.
Major financial decisions are ahead of them such as paying for college, building their credit, paying bills and more. To prepare them for these responsibilities:
Teach Your Child to Share
Giving back is a great feeling—payback your child will value for a lifetime. Sharing with others will teach them that even a small amount can make a big impact. Whether your child is a toddler or a teenager, here are some ways you can encourage your child to share a bit of their money with a friend in need, help fund a cause, or make a donation in your community.