My life changed in 1990. Specifically the stock market project in Ms. Burke’s class changed my life. Maybe you did a similar project at some point in your school career. In 1990 I was in 6th grade and for whatever reason, the stock market project fascinated me. I saw, for the first time, that your money could work for you when you chose the right investments. This project caused me to do two things: 1) Buy and read Investing for Dummies and 2) buy my first stock. And yes, I mean stock singular. So what single stock did little sixth grade Peter Dunn purchase? Philip Morris, naturally. My buddy’s dad was a broker and he helped me make the purchase. Since this was back in the day I was able to get the actual physical stock certificate, which I hung on my bedroom wall.
Obviously, I was just a weird kid, but you should start your kid investing early. As early as 3rd or 4th grade, your kids can purchase a stock or two. This is not intended to build wealth for them. It’s simply a way to help them understand how the market works. You can open an UTMA or UGMA account for them or go through a robo-advisor. Either way, getting them started young means they will begin to understand how money functions in our world.
Why is this important? Because we are so disconnected from money today. Kids today will never have the experience of seeing their parents pay for goods with only cash or checks like we did growing up. Today, we can literally buy things with a touch of our smartphone. Kids today have probably never even been in a bank because their parents do all their banking online or through drive-throughs. I remember banks being sort of exciting places back when I was a kid. I knew, from the way my Mom behaved in one, that it was a place you had to respect because it involved money. Kids today don’t get that. This is why I take my kids into the bank with me regularly. I’m the weirdo who actually takes a physical check into the bank to pay my mortgage. Why? Because I want my kids to know the bank owns my house and I’m proud to be paying them back. I want them to know money is important, and not in a materialistic way, but in a need-to-respect-it sort of way.
Want your kids to respect money? Want them to understand the value of growing money and not spending it? Great. Open an investment account for them and take them to the bank every once in a while. The majority of what your kids know about money comes from you. So ask yourself, what are your money habits teaching your kids?
I’ve got a whole lot more to say about this topic, listen to a whole segment on kids and finances on The Pete the Planner® Radio Show here:
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.