Here's the thing about saving: The earlier in life you begin, the better off you'll be. When we learn the basics of saving at a young age, these behaviors become instilled in us. Like brushing our teeth, or exercising, saving can become second nature.
Because of this, it pays to begin teaching kids to save early in life. By taking an active approach to basic financial education, you can "raise a saver" -- and give your child the tools she'll need to achieve financial independence later in life.
With that in mind, here are some steps you can take today to help nurture a love of saving in your child.
Turn Saving Into a Game
With very young children, it's always a good idea to "gamify" things. Whether it's cleaning a room, eating vegetables, or learning how to save rather than spend money, turning these activities into a game is a guaranteed way to keep their attention.
Making saving a game makes it more engaging, and helps kids maintain interest. Establishing a goal -- and having your child work toward that goal consistently -- is a key saving tactic.
Use Technology to Teach the Value of Saving
Asking your child to save a portion of her allowance probably won't generate much initial enthusiasm. There are ways, however, to make this process much more engaging.
One example: You can use one of the many savings apps designed for kids on tablets and mobile devices. These apps can help children track their allowance -- and any other money earned from household tasks -- while also helping them set aside money each week to pursue long-term goals. Even better, many of these apps offer motivation and encouragement, and allow children to designate items they'd like to save for.
Help Them Find Real-World Savings
While technology is great, nothing replaces real world experience. Even the most grizzled adult usually gets a minor thrill from finding a great deal at a retail or grocery store. Having your young child along on a "savings treasure hunt" will multiply this excitement by 100.
Along with having them help hunt for bargains at the store, encourage them to search for coupons on their own and pursue other savings-related tasks, such as collecting returnable glass bottles for coins.
Help Them Understand the Psychology of Saving
Delaying gratification is hard for adults, so it's no surprise children struggle with it. There are, however, ways you can help kids overcome their natural tendency to spend rather than save.
For example, have your child pick out an expensive toy or item they'd like to purchase. Explain to them that if they save their money for a certain number of weeks, they'll be able to afford the item. If they spend their money on something else, however, this item will remain out of reach. This situation shows them that delaying gratification today can lead to greater rewards in the future.
Sometimes children need a slight nudge in the right direction to get their saving routine started. One good way to encourage them to save is by offering an incentive. Few things offer a stronger pull than more money, so it's a smart idea to offer to match their savings up to a certain point.
Instilling good savings habits in children is a critical first step in preparing them for later financial success. Follow the advice listed above and you can raise your own saver.