In an age when even adults have a hard time saving for their futures, it may seem as though there’s no hope to teach kids how to save. Thankfully, we can learn a thing or two from behavioral psychology and how it applies to our financial future. For example, did you know there’s a reason so many of us spend our tax returns rather than saving them? It turns out we are hardwired to think only of our present needs and concerns.
But what if we rewired our brains? What if we actually took some time to think about our futures? One study did just that. Researchers digitally remastered the photographs of 50 college students to make them appear fifty years older. After asking the students to study the photographs, they were given a hypothetical $1,000 and asked whether they would like to spend the money or save it for retirement.
After looking at the photo, most of the students chose to deposit that money into a retirement account. Smart kids! But there’s a reason for this phenomenon. Those students were taking a moment to consider their future and what they would need to succeed in it. How often do we do this in our day to day lives? Not very often. In fact, most of us are preoccupied with the tuition we need to pay next month or the mortgage we still have 20 years to pay off.
It doesn’t have to be this way. While present-day concerns absolutely have to be addressed, they would be less concerning to us if we had taken a moment ten years ago to decide what we would need to set ourselves up for financial success today. We have the opportunity to do just that with our children.
Kids between the ages of 6 and 18 don’t have a lot they need to spend money on. It’s the perfect opportunity for them to see what could be achieved by the time they turn 18 if they only start saving now. That’s why we’re taking the month of April to educate children and their families on the value saving. In fact, we’re offering a welcome package and a prize to any child who signs up for a savings account between April 1st and 30th.
Much like the classic marshmallow experiment, teaching your kids to “wait for the want” helps them to be more financially secure as an adult. By teaching them to avoid instant gratification in favor of long-term success, they’ll be able to see that purchasing a new toy now isn’t quite as beneficial as being able to afford college later. Help children to recognize their long-term goals and save for them. You never know, you might teach yourself something in the process!
Financial literacy is a process. It’s something we need to keep learning and relearning as we grow older. Especially in an age of instant gratification. But by starting small—say depositing $10 into savings each week—we can reap huge rewards later. Stop by DEXSTA Federal Credit Union this week. We love to teach kids how to save now. Because the future can’t wait.