Financial Literacy and Children: Keep it Relatable at Every Age

How can we raise financially confident children and grandchildren in an increasingly complex world filled with distractions? Many of our clients, for example, are concerned that the next generation won’t possess the financial literacy needed to inherit family wealth.

The good news is that while introducing healthy money habits to young children is ideal, it’s never too early or too late to start. Here are five considerations to help make financial literacy relatable to children of any age.

    1. Individualize the Experience

Connect and educate a child by considering their unique needs and personal journey. What worked for you, or their siblings may not be the best strategy for them.

For example, consider:

  • Learning style and ability. The financial concepts you can cover are often guided by whether your child is at an elementary, secondary, or post-secondary stage. However, beyond the practical considerations of age and education level, how does your child best learn? Are they more visual or auditory? Do they have special needs? What can you learn from other subjects where they have excelled or had difficulty?
  • Allowance or no allowance? This common question begins at a young age and evolves over time. When to start? When to stop? How much to give? Should an allowance be aligned with chores, good grades, a money management tool, or none of the above? There is no right or wrong answer. Everyone’s situation is unique. Decide what approach works best for your child and family.
  • The path to success is non-linear. Remember that as your child ages, they’ll continue to face life’s twists and turns. To stay relevant, their financial literacy journey will need to adapt to new experiences and learning opportunities. Let them explore and learn from their failures and successes.

    2. Encourage Their Voice

Empowering your child to be financially responsible and independent into adulthood isn’t a one-way conversation. Create a safe, open space for regular, meaningful communication. Understanding their values and giving them ownership in their growth will not only lead to more successful learning opportunities and accountability for your child, but could also improve your relationship.

Strategies include:

  • Jobs. For some, earning money beyond family chores begins as a pre-teen. For others, this happens later as a summer internship or post- secondary graduate. Whatever the timeframe and type of job, are they choosing something they enjoy and relate to? Encourage them to explore all possibilities and implications rather than being quick to serve up an opportunity that you think is best. Ultimately, connecting to their “why” and taking ownership in decisions will help children better relate to the value of the money, especially when they begin to earn a salary.
  • Spending. Whether it’s money from an allowance, a birthday gift, or a job, instilling responsible spending habits in children can be difficult. A helpful approach is to frame spending decisions around needs and wants. Again, having them clearly articulate their whys and evaluate trade-offs in the decision-making process can help them make more thoughtful choices.
  • Saving and investing. While the power of starting early and regularly investing is logical, children, like adults, are guided by emotion and can easily be overwhelmed when making financial decisions. So, rather than telling them what to do, present options and empower young people to research and ask themselves questions such as the “how” and the “what” with a personalized discussion around objectives, time horizon, and risk tolerance.
  • Gratitude and giving back. Giving back to the community through volunteering or charitable giving is essential to many families. Whether encouraging children to donate their time, or old toys or engaging them in family charitable initiatives, can help them make values-based decisions that connect more meaningfully to the impact of giving back.

   3. Connect the Future to Today

When setting and tracking goals, the challenge for many of us is that we live and feel in the moment. Moreover, children often don’t have the experience of hindsight, so the benefits of saving today (for a faraway tomorrow) can be hard to relate to. So, how can you connect saving and investing to the now?

As mentioned, it is vital to encourage children to make personally relevant, values-based decisions around how they earn, spend, save, invest, and share money. The same approach can be applied to financial goal setting. Whether the goals are short- or long-term, have your children anchor those goals within:

  • Their values and what they’re passionate about today.
  • Clearly connecting the dots from today to tomorrow by ensuring their goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.)

    4. Have Fun

Make it fun for everyone to stay engaged and easily retain information. Encourage curiosity and creativity. Recognize teachable moments in the everyday to keep learning active and cumulative.

For example, consider:

  • Games. Board games that integrate money management, such as Monopoly, can be a great way to involve the entire family. Also, think digital –many online resources leverage gamification for different age groups to make financial education more relatable and enjoyable. Young children love imaginary games – play pretend store!
  • Party planning and shopping. Enable children to ideate, research, and plan a party and shopping list within a budget. This can help them make informed decisions while developing adaptability and accountability.
  • Entrepreneurship at any age. Whether it’s a lemonade stand, a bake sale, selling art, doing yard work in the neighbourhood, providing social media training to small business owners, or teaching younger kids to skate – encourage your children to explore how their talents and hobbies could translate into income, as well as planning for any related costs they’ll incur.
  • Bank accounts and credit cards. When your child is ready to transition from a piggy bank to the real world, make a trip to the bank a fun event. Encourage them to research their options in advance. Also, remember the small teachable moments when they’re with you at an ATM, or you’re using a credit card online – for example, educate your children early on how to protect themselves from fraud and identity theft.

    5. Stay Consistent

In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear says: “Start small and become the kind of person who shows up every day.”

When it comes to raising financially confident children, it’s a lifelong journey and consistency matters for everyone. Ultimately, your children will become independent adults with greater personal financial accountability and experiences through life stages. For now, however, it’s important to remember that as a parent, children relate to consistent leadership and coaching. Consistency inspires consistency. Whether your child is four or twenty-four, you are helping sow the seeds so they can cultivate healthy financial futures for themselves and generations to come.

Final Thoughts

While we’ve outlined several ways to engage and motivate children to be more financially responsible, this article is not exhaustive. Moreover, the conversation around financial health will continue to evolve in an increasingly complex and constantly changing world. Many excellent financial literacy programs in Canada provide ongoing education and comprehensive resources for all age groups and life stages. For example, we recommend CPA Canada’s A Parent’s Guide to Raising Money Smart Kids.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that every family’s situation, goals, and needs are different and dynamic. Raising financially confident children is just one aspect of building a holistic plan to help grow and sustain your wealth across generations. For more expert advice on this topic, contact a Wellington-Altus advisor today.

The opinions contained herein are the opinions of the author and readers should not assume they reflect the opinions or recommendations of Wellington-Altus Private Wealth. Assumptions, opinions and information constitute the author’s judgement as of the date this material and subject to change without notice. We do not warrant the completeness or accuracy of this material, and it should not be relied upon as such. Before acting on any recommendation, you should consider whether it is suitable for your particular circumstances and, if necessary, seek professional advice. Graphs and charts are used for illustrative purposes only and do not reflect future values or future performance of any investment. The information does not provide financial, legal, tax or investment advice. Particular investment, tax, or trading strategies should be evaluated relative to each individual’s objectives and risk tolerance. All third party products and services referred to or advertised in this presentation are sold by the company or organization named. While these products or services may serve as valuable aids to the independent investor, WAPW does not specifically endorse any of these products or services. The third party products and services referred to, or advertised in this presentation, are available as a convenience to its customers only, and WAPW is not liable for any claims, losses or damages however arising out of any purchase or use of third party products or services. All insurance products and services are offered by life licensed advisors of Wellington-Altus. Wellington-Altus Private Wealth Inc. is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Amy Sweeney

AMY SWEENEY

Associate

Amy was born and raised in Squamish, is David’s oldest daughter and now the newest member of the Sweeney Bride team. Many may recognize her as she has worked periodically for the team for over 20 years. For the past five years, she has gained administrative experience and more running her own business as a Kinesiologist after completing a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology at the University of British Columbia in 2016. Now, Amy is officially ready to join the finance industry. Currently residing in North Vancouver, Amy spends all her “free” time raising Dave’s two wonderful grandchildren.
Liam Hill

LIAM HILL

Associate Investment Advisor

Originally from Sydney, Australia, Liam moved to the Sea to Sky region in 2013, leaving the beaches behind to embrace the mountains. He hasn’t looked back since and enjoys exploring the wilderness by both land and sea.

Liam’s unique strength lies in his capacity to adapt and fine-tune strategies to match the ever-changing financial world. He’s a passionate advocate for adaptability and flexibility, believing these traits are crucial for securing financial well-being.

Liam holds the Canadian Securities Course qualification and is currently pursuing the Chartered Investment Manager (CIM) designation.

He shares his industry knowledge and business skills to empower individuals, families, and businesses on their path to financial success.

Liam is committed to educating our clients about the financial services industry and helping them make the most of available resources to achieve prosperity.

SHARON FIELDS

Administrative Assistant

Sharon worked for Sweeney Bride from 2014 to 2016 and recently rejoined the team as an Administrative Assistant in 2021. She has years of administrative experience in a variety of industries including working in legal and accounting firms. She enjoys being detailed, organized and efficient. When not hard at work, she enjoys exploring the great outdoors with her dogs, playing co-operative strategy board games and relaxing while sipping a nice Craft beer.

Carrie Freitag

CARRIE FREITAG

Administrative Assistant

Carrie is the newest member of our team and is our Administrative Assistant. She has previous industry and administrative experience and her fascination with the finance industry is rapidly growing. Carrie moved to BC in 1994 from Ontario and never looked back. While not working she loves hanging out with her two kids, awesome cat Leo, and enjoys a competitive game of 21, and her gardens.

Katie Norton

KATIE NORTON

Associate

Katie is a Business Administration graduate who joined the Sweeney Bride team in 2016. She takes care of on-boarding as well as managing account administration for our existing clients. She works hard to ensure the clients feel supported throughout the on-boarding process and is always available to answer questions.

A BC resident since 1997, Katie and her husband moved to Squamish to raise their two girls. They enjoy all of the outdoor activities and natural beauty that Squamish has to offer.

Liz Woodsworth

LIZ WOODSWORTH

Office Manager

Liz joined the Sweeney Bride team in 2015 as office manager. She is the gatekeeper in the office and is the face that greets you as you come through the door. If she can’t help you, she will ensure you speak with someone who can. Liz is a long-time Squamish local; when not in the office she spends her days soaking up all that this town has to offer while chasing her two active boys. Liz brings her valuable organizational skills and enthusiastic attitude to the team. 

Janet Bride

JANET BRIDE

CFP®, CIM® | Senior Wealth Advisor

Janet Bride is a Senior Wealth Advisor at Wellington-Altus Private Wealth and co-founder of the Sweeney Bride Strategic Wealth Advisory team.

With over 15 years’ experience in the Industry Janet holds the Chartered Investment Manager (CIM®), CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER®, and Elder Planning Counselor (EPC) designations and is also Insurance licensed.

Janet grew up in Ontario and moved out to beautiful British Columbia in 1995 with her husband, Paul, who is an adventure travel photographer. Her passion is to travel the world. Always interested in exploring different cultures and landscapes, she is grateful to have traveled to over 50 countries across 6 continents. She also enjoys continuous learning, spontaneous adventures with family and friends, and an active lifestyle in the Sea to Sky. Janet is proud to be a Big Brothers Big Sisters Alumni member since 2004.

She is highly motivated by helping people reach their financial dreams by creating comprehensive financial plans for individuals & families. While using a holistic approach to wealth management, she specializes in tax strategies and her goal is to encourage savings and help build our client’s wealth for a healthy and prosperous future.

David-Sweeney

DAVID SWEENEY

CFP®, CIM® | Senior Wealth Advisor

Dave Sweeney is a Senior Wealth Advisor at Wellington-Altus Private Wealth and co-founder of the Sweeney Bride Strategic Wealth Advisory team.

With over 31 years’ experience in the Industry Dave holds the Chartered Investment Manager (CIM®), CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER®, and Elder Planning Counselor (EPC) designations and is also Insurance licensed.

Dave has lived in Squamish for most of his life. Married to his wife Donna, since 1987, they proudly have 3 lovely daughters, Amy, Danielle and Jamie. With his time in Squamish, it has allowed him an opportunity to become involved in many valuable groups.

Dave is a retired Captain of Squamish Fire Rescue after 35 years of service. Another passion was sports and he has been a coach for Squamish Youth Soccer Association where he dedicated 10 years to coaching girls Rep teams. Additionally, he is a former member and Treasurer of the Sea to Sky Community Services Board. Dave is a frequent contributor to Mountain FM’s Mountain Monitor, providing general advice and financial commentary.

Dave continues his volunteer work as Treasurer for both the Squamish Hospital Foundation and the Squamish Downtown Business Improvement Association. He is also a sitting Board member of the Squamish Community Foundation.

Professionally, Dave started his Financial Planning practice in 1994. After living through both his parents’ demise and witnessing what a lack of understanding they had, he realized what sound planning techniques could do to ensure that an untimely death did not destroy one’s lifetime work. For over 20 years, he has made it his passion to assist others in not facing the same plight.