Teaching your kids how to tie their shoes or ride their bike are proud parent moments. Learning life lessons and skills help your child grow into a happy, healthy adult, and most of them are learned from you! An important skill that often gets overlooked until a child reaches their teenage years is personal finance. This doesn’t have to be a long conversation over the dinner table with your child leaving confused or worse - bored! You can teach them simple lessons early in life.

Children grasp money concepts by age 3 and by 7 some habits have already formed. As their biggest influencer, don’t wait until they are teens to get started. Below are simple lessons at every age to get your child on the right track financially.

Ages 3-5: Wait to buy something you want.

At this age you can be teaching your child that with a little patience they will be able to obtain what they want. For example, while waiting in line at an amusement park ride is a great time to remind your child the importance of waiting for what they want.

At this age your child will have fun decorating a savings jar. Then use the jar to have them start saving for a small toy they would like at the store. Make sure their goal is attainable short-term, if it takes them months to achieve they will just get frustrated. Whenever they have coins to put in the jar, count with them how much they have and how close they are to their goal.

Ages 6-10: Making choices on what to spend money on.

While at the grocery store discuss with your child why you chose generic over name brand.  For instance, let them know that the peanut butter you chose is 50 cents less so that’s why it is in your cart.  While shopping, give your child $2 and let them pick out fruit for their lunch.

Discuss the reasons why you might go to a discount store for certain items, or the benefits of buying items in bulk. Chatting about these decisions will help them understand the importance of making wise money choices themselves.

Ages 11-13: The sooner you save, the faster your money can grow.

At this age, you can discuss compound interest with your child. Use specific instances to help them understand. For example, “if you set aside $100 every year starting at age 14, you’d have $23,000 by age 65, but if you start at age 35, you’ll only have $7,000 by age 65” Forbes).

Encourage your child to set a long-term goal for their savings, like a new iPad. This will help them learn about opportunity cost. They might have to give up buying a soda after school so that dollar can instead go towards their goal.

Ages 14-18: Saving for college.

Ninth grade is a great time to start going over the cost of college with your child. Explain to them the benefits of going to college. Let them know what you as a parent can contribute to their education and be honest with them. Strategize other ways to pay for college in addition to their own money, such as applying for financial aid, scholarships and lastly loans for school.

While researching schools, figure out how much they will have to pay back. A good tool is this College Scorecard to help them really see the costs of each school. Discuss the cost of living in the dorm versus off campus and help them budget expenses.

Ages 18+: You should use a credit card only if you can pay it off.

Life happens and it’s full of unexpected expenses. When these out-of-nowhere expenses pop up, a better tactic than using a credit card is an emergency savings. It is too easy to fall into credit card debt and that is why it’s important to teach your child that they should be saving for emergencies. They don’t want the burden of paying off a credit card while paying for their student loans.

A good rule of thumb is to keep at least 3 months of expenses saved. Teach them that a credit card shouldn’t be used for everyday expenses. Help them find a low interest card with no annual fees for emergencies. That way when they have a needed expense that their savings won’t cover, only a small portion gets charged. Instill in them to pay off the credit card when it’s used, then build their savings back up to 3 months’ worth of expenses as soon as possible.

Full article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2013/10/15/the-5-most-important-money-lessons-to-teach-your-kids/#4767562e498c