Financial Habits Are Learned by Age 7. Here Are 4 Ways to Give Your Kids a Head Start

A parent and child sort through bills while sitting on the floor.

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You can foster your child’s financial curiosity earlier than you think.

Key points

  • Use technology for good with family-friendly finance apps.
  • Get them vested and invested by opening a custodial IRA.
  • Bring them into the fold with experiential learning about your own finances.

Your second grader probably isn’t discussing the Fed’s next rate hike. But according to, their money habits are set by age seven. Here are four ways you can pique your child’s financial interest.

1. There’s an app for that

Added screen time might not excite most parents, but using that time to build a child’s money mindset should. Apps like Greenlight and FamZoo make virtual banking a family affair. 

With allowance transfers and debit cards, children can learn the value of earning cash and the importance of spending wisely, without facing overdraft fees and other penalties. The best part is that parents have full control over their child’s experience by limiting purchasing categories and reviewing every transaction.

2. Open a custodial Roth IRA

When your child begins receiving earned income, opening an IRA for them is a great learning opportunity. By having an account in their name and funded by their hard work, children will have a sense of ownership as they take an early step toward a secure retirement.

And don’t forget the investments. Encourage your child to research investments and watch them grow to make a lifelong investor. Just remember to diversify their holdings: nothing is more discouraging than watching hard-earned money disappear!

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3. Make them your financial copilot

Investing your retirement account? Show them what you’re doing. Running to the bank? Introduce them to the teller. Meeting with a financial advisor? Take them with you; they might even get a sucker. When it comes to a financial education, make it experiential. 

A 2018 study found that family communication patterns greatly improve financial knowledge among college students. By opening up about your financial picture to your children, they have added experience when it comes to their own financial future. Learning the abstract is important, but hands-on experience is the best way to foster their interest.

4. Learning in the classroom (yeah, really)

Financial literacy classes in public schools still have a long way to go, but some non-profit organizations are filling the gap. Junior Achievement and the Jump$tart Coalition are two such groups bringing personal finances to the classroom. 

As a parent, you have a lot of influence over what is taught in your child’s classroom. Why not check to see if these or other personal finance programs are offered by your child’s school. If they aren’t, have a conversation with the administration to see how that can be changed. If they are, get involved. Volunteers are always encouraged. When it comes to financial literacy, every parent should be an advocate.

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