Most parents realize that it is important to teach their children to save. But, many of us do not start doing this in a concerted way until our children are about 11 or 12. Unfortunately, that is probably too late. A recent study led by Craig Smith, who is a research investigator at the University of Michigan Center for Human Growth and Development, indicates we need to start far earlier. They found that children formed their long-term spending habits by the time they are about 5.

So, today, I thought I would share a few ways you can get started with helping your children to spend wisely and save for the future. As you will see, the ideas below go beyond the usual suggestion of opening a saving account.

Gift Them Gold or Silver

Kids, like us, love owning pretty things. So, you could buy them a gold or silver coin, like the ones you can find on this website. One of them would make a beautiful alternative to a christening bracelet. This firm also sells bullion bars, which are as small as 1oz. They can also make attractive gifts. A lot of people like to give special coins at other important points in a child’s life, for example for their 13th birthday.

These coins can be kept in a safe place until your child is old enough to decide what to do with them. When it is time for them to go to university or start an apprenticeship they could easily sell them to release some of the cash that is tied up in those coins. Or, they could be kept and only sold if there is a financial emergency, later in their life.

Encourage Them to Save for Something Special

If your child wants you to buy them an expensive item, don’t automatically say no. Instead, consider letting them save up so that they can buy it. They do not necessarily have to pay the full cost, just enough to them to learn the value of getting into the habit of saving.

Create a Savings Chart

When you do this, consider creating some sort of savings chart. For example, a large test tube that is marked incrementally so they can see how close to their savings goal they are. At the end of each week or month, draw a new line to indicate how much money they have and provide them with a visual picture of how close to their goal they are.

Match Your Child’s Savings

Matching your child’s savings provides a huge incentive for them to save even more. How you do it is very much up to you. Some parents match what they save 100%, while others simply give them say a dollar for every 20 dollars they save.

If you do not have enough spare cash to do this, do not worry because there are other ways to do it. You could, for example, promise to take them on a picnic every time they manage to save another $20. Anything that your child likes doing can be used as an incentive.

You can learn more about making sure your child becomes financially literate, by clicking here. Some of the above ideas are included in that article, but you will also find plenty of additional suggestions there.