SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — The economic downfall caused by the pandemic has had an impact on all families -- and for many revealed some financial vulnerability.
But one silver lining is the interest it has sparked in teaching financial literacy. More efforts are underway to bring financial instruction into the classroom. But with summer just around the corner, we wanted to know: what can you as a parent be doing for your child at home?
“What money is, how money is used, how you save it, how you spend it,” said Tracy Teater of National Center for Families Learning.
Does your child know all of that? If not, then educational specialist Tracy Teater says now is the time to learn.
“I think the earlier those conversations can start the more that that child begins to understand the increasingly complex issues associated with financial literacy,” said Teater.
And if the pandemic has taught us anything. It’s that money managing skills are paramount when it comes to weathering financial emergencies
in one way or another, all families have been impacted this particular year. Yet a recent survey of parents with kids aged eight to 14-years-old showed at least 40% had some reluctance to discuss financial topics with their children.
From a very early age, they really learned not to ask mom and dad for toys or anything.
“We’d always say do you have enough money for it and they've learned to really check their bank account,” said dad Matt Sweeney.
In Matt Sweeney’s household, it all started with the financial basics.
“There’s a system out there where you have a jar for spend, a jar for give, and a jar for save,” said Matt Sweeney that uses FamZoo.
The concept prompted a lot of good discussions, but as his children grew into teens, it was time to transition them from the physical to the digital.
“You run a little family bank, you set up a system that reflects your values,” said Bill Dwight Founder of FamZoo.
Famzoo, a child-friendly debit card. Kids under the age of operating the account through their parents. While those 13 and up use the prepaid card independently.
Whether the money comes from an allowance or a birthday gift, the kids do their own transactions. Meantime, parents can set up incentives with parent-paid interest.
“They learn through repetition oh if I leave my money alone it can grow,” said Dwight.
“Why is having a tool like this so powerful and so impactful when it comes to raising kids and teenagers?” Ameera David asked Dwight.
“I believe it’s because it puts the power in the hands of the children,” said Dwight.
Matt says it’s helped his kids understand the value of budgeting.
"They’ll plan, they’ll realize they don't have this much money to buy this Lego set so my younger one will plan out. ‘In three weeks, I will have enough, that’s kinda like real life,” said Sweeney.
But famzoo isn’t the only digital tool helping parents mimic reality.
You can go a step further with the busy kid app -- that allows for your kids to donate a percentage of their allowance direct to a charity or even invest it by turning it into real stock.
But financial gaming is also a good educational option.
Experts have praised games like Peter Pig’s money counter which shows you how to count money while learning about US currency.
But if you are not into the fancy apps and games, then Teater says, rely on the power of reading.
“Picking books at your local library even for your pre-K children,” said Teater.