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Toronto, Ontario - M5V 1R2
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It’s On You to Teach Your Kids Financial Literacy. Spoiler: It’s Not Hard.

Written by Jeni Marinucci

Parents are called upon to teach their kids things everyday, and a lot of this learning happens unnoticed by both parties. We teach them tangible things like tying their shoes, or looking both ways when crossing the street, or how to say thank you when they receive a gift. And kids are learning even when we’re not actively teaching them things, too. They watch us and absorb things we don’t even recognize we do ourselves. (We’re betting you can mimic the way your mom walks when she’s mad or how your dad drives on a highway with astonishing precision. See? We saw and noted these things!) 

When you stop and consider all the things kids absorb from us, it’s pretty amazing. We set them up for success through how we parent and what this means when it comes to kids and money is this: they see, hear, and feel our energy when we talk about money and finances, even if those conversations don’t involve them. No one is looking for you to be Peter Positive or Yasmin Yes Energy all the time, but simply that we understand that our child’s feelings about money will be partially formed while living under our roof and in our care.  

Kids are a lot smarter and perceptive than many people give them credit for (ask anyone whose toddlers have picked the lock to the snack cupboard). They even have a way of understanding feelings without knowing the words to describe those feelings. If they sense stress about money and finances, those feelings can move forward with them and set them up in their own financial habits later in life. The great news here is that money does not have to be a stressor for kids and while we always promote honesty in parenting, some financial matters are more age appropriate than others. For instance, teaching a four or five-year-old child the monetary difference in coins and what each coin will buy them at the dollar store is a lot different than having a tearful discussion with your partner about affording a loan payment within earshot of small children. Know your audience, and try work within it when possible.

Kids under 10 can — and do — understand many fundamentals about money. They know it’s needed to pay for, well, almost everything. Helping them understand earnings and saving systems in a way they can conceptualize is crucial. Opening a chequing account for a seven or eight-year-old child may at first seem premature, believe us, there is no safer place for birthday or gift money than in the bank. (Says the mom who will admit to more than once having to dip into kids’ birthday money for something when she couldn’t find her bank card.) Plus, watching a balance grow can inspire young savers and kids will love watching $10 grow to $100 — even when you may only be adding a few dollars every week. You can easily set up new chequing accounts for all members of the family at BMO, and there’s a great benefit to doing it, too. Right now, BMO is offering up to $350* for new chequing accounts. That’s an incredible way to get the ball rolling when teaching kids about being money savvy. For the under-10 set, setting up bank accounts can be something they’re involved in from the start and it makes them feel involved in the process. Empowerment is key when it comes to kids and money, so opening a BMO chequing account together is a great starting place in kids’ financial learning. It can also inspire patience and delayed gratification in children who need to develop this skill. 

Here are a few ideas for developing financial literacy in young kids after you open their own chequing accounts: 

  1. Make it fun — create a thermometer chart to show how their money is growing towards a goal. Kids are visual and “money in the bank” can sometimes be difficult to understand because they can’t see it. 
  2. Make deposits both in person and online, to acquaint your young kids with banking procedures. Let them help!
  3. If your children receive an allowance, it can be directly deposited into these chequing accounts. Talk about how your paycheque goes straight into your account, and you can even show kids your statements to see how and when this happens. 
  4. Have them save for a reasonable purchase or gift for someone. It should be something that will take some time to accomplish (delayed gratification) but not so long that they lose interest or become frustrated. Celebrate when they meet the goal! 
  5. Take the time to revisit their goals and encourage them along the way while watching money grow. Allowances can be a hot button topic, but a few dollars each week for chores performed beyond what is expected of regular family duties can be a good way to entice savings. In this way, they’re also learning about transactional relationships, in a “I do this; I earn this” way. 

Before you know it, your kids will be babysitting or holding part time jobs and they’ll likely need chequing accounts for their paycheques. Doing it now will save you time in the long run and it gives kids a chance to get acquainted with banking procedures while they’re young. We’re big proponents of children feeling ownership in their environments by having their own items like library cards, transit passes, and chequing accounts, and by giving kids a chequing account now, you’re able to set them up with good habits while they still listen to you (take advantage of this time, parents! The preteen and teen years are quickly approaching.) BMO chequing accounts are a safe and secure way to hold money. They’re helping you save, too, because in addition to the up to $350* offered now for new chequing accounts, BMO also has the BMO Family Bundle, where there is only one monthly fee* for all accounts in a household, while keeping accounts private to each account holder. Instilling knowledge and habits during these formative years will go a long way later. Learning about the importance of checking bank balances monthly and understanding how a bank securely holds money for their customers will stay with kids as they move forward in their financial futures, and you can rest a bit easier — at least over this. Because remember: driving school is just over the horizon.

*Conditions apply. Visit for full details.

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.