Why you should show your kids your household bills

Mother and son using laptop together
Online resources for parents to educate children about finances are available for free from Junior Achievement of Greater Washington. (Getty Images/Cultura RF/Zero Creatives)

It is never too early to start teaching children about money and finances, and Junior Achievement of Greater Washington said parents have many effective opportunities by just including children in family expenses.

One suggestion is to show children the monthly household bills.

“What is key is that they will see the items they use everyday — electricity, water, cellphone — and they probably take those for granted,” said Ed Grenier, president and CEO of Junior Achievement of Greater Washington.

“By doing this, it opens up teachable moments such as needs versus wants, fixed versus variable expenses,” he said. “I joke all the time, but hopefully that exercise helps them take shorter showers and turn off the lights.”

The grocery store is another place that presents teachable money moments.

“You can even ask your older kids to create your shopping budget, or let them plan a meal on a budget of their own. You could do everything from comparison shopping to scanning items in the store,” Grenier said.

“But when you get to the cash register, it is important to loop back on that total final cost, because that is a significant household bill that they should be aware of,” he said.

When returning home from the grocery store, Junior Achievement said instead of letting children run upstairs to their bedrooms or going outside to play, parents should ask children to unpack the groceries and identify which are needs and which are wants.

If a child asks how much money a parent earns — and if the parent is comfortable answering and stresses that is not information to be shared with friends — don’t just give them a number.

Junior Achievement suggests you show them a pay statement and walk them through all of the deductions and what that will mean when they begin earning their first paycheck.

Junior Achievement of Greater Washington provides free online resources for parents to educate children about finances, including the impact on finances due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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