The most impactful teacher in a child’s life is their parent. What you do, they do. Okay, sometimes. So, in today’s new world order, what kind of money behavior are you modeling for your children? According to a recent poll at themint.org, 57% of us would put $1,000 in a savings account before putting it in the stock market. Is that the message we want to send to your kids? Or, is there more to the story?

Clearly, people are wary about investing their money in something that’s not guaranteed or protected. While this fear is perfectly understandable, it raises another question … are we inadvertently sending a message to our kids that investing in the stock market is a bad decision?

Another poll from themint.org, tells us that fewer than 20% of responders think that investing is, “Scary! I’d be afraid I’d lose all my savings.” If you’re a child growing up in these uncertain economic times with parents who are scared of the market, you’re unlikely to hear about all the money that was made in the stock market. Instead, you’re hearing about hard earned cash being lost and a fear of falling into poverty.

I’m not suggesting that it is our role as parents to shelter our children from these realities. I think it is our job to do both — so, talk about the reality and take today’s economic environment as an opportunity to impart some stock market wisdom. Your kids are hearing about money everywhere. They hear about money in school, at home and from their friends. As a result, you have their attention. This is a teachable moment.

Start today and begin by talking to your kids about the importance of saving and investing. How to diversify your investments in order to protect your savings. How to look for companies that are undervalued in today’s volatile market. Clue them in on the concept of “high risk, high reward” versus “low risk and low reward.” What are the upsides and what are the downsides?

Investing is an important part of saving for long term goals and it’s important not to eliminate it as a tool in the minds of children. Perhaps now is the time for your kids to research investing a portion of their own money. By including them in these conversations, you will begin to ease their fears and avoid sending the message that “the stock market=bad.”

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Susan Beacham
Written by Susan Beacham
Susan Beacham founded Money Savvy Generation in 1999 after almost two decades in private banking and investment management complemented by considerable time teaching at the elementary level.

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