McRae: Teaching Kids to Save
By Treasurer David McRae
I have had a lot of titles in my life, both in the private sector and now as your State Treasurer, but like so many parents, the title I’m most proud of is “Dad.” What’s interesting to me is that while all these roles are very different, I seem to come back to the same message: Let’s find ways to do more with fewer dollars.
As your State Treasurer, our team has done that quite successfully. We’ve struck a few debt refinancing deals to save taxpayers more than $100 million, created a $70+ million economic stimulus by prioritizing unclaimed money returns, and enrolled hundreds of families in college savings programs.
At home, I work with my kids to do the same. I want them to know how to save money – and how to wisely use what they save. Here are a few principles I share with them that I encourage you to share with your children too:
- Teach Them to Earn. I strongly believe our kids should be taught how to earn money while they’re still young. Pay them for doing chores, pet sitting, or yard work. This will help teach them the value of a dollar.
- Share Your Experiences. Don’t hide all your financial decisions from your kids. If you’re planning a vacation, putting money away for their collage, or saving for your own retirement, share those plans with your child.
- Give Kids a Savings Incentive. Summer vacation is a perfect time to teach your child delayed gratification. At the beginning of the summer, pick out something your child might want to buy – new AirPods, basketball shoes, etc. Help them earn and save money toward that goal.
- Kickstart College Savings. Start having conversations now about the job your child would like to have, how much it will pay, and how much it will cost to get the education needed to do that job. Then, work backwards with them. Show them how you plan to help pay for their college. If you have a College Savings Mississippi 529 plan, log into the portal with them to show how the money has grown over time and gotten you closer to a goal. If you don’t yet have a College Savings Mississippi 529 plan, learn more about getting one at treasury.ms.gov/CollegeSavings.
- Get Help. It’s not easy to teach these skills to kids, but you don’t have to do it alone either. I’ve posted a number of resources on our website to help families. Visit treasury.ms.gov/FinancialEducation to find games for your kids and educational materials for parents and teachers alike!
Giving our kids a little savings know-how now will yield tremendous dividends in the years ahead. Just know that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to teach them these values. Think about the things you do in your own life to stretch a dollar just a little bit further. Simply open the door into that world a crack for your kids and let them learn beside you.