What’s the best financial gift you can give your children? It’s not a R1 000 gift voucher (though they won’t complain about that), nor is it a bank account opened in their name. No, the best gift you can give – and the best heritage you can leave – is a clear understanding of how to make and manage their money.

 

After all, if your children don’t know how to take care of their finances, what heritage will they have to leave?

 

Here are four of the most valuable financial lessons you can teach your children.


LESSON 1: HOW TO BUDGET

Basic maths will tell you that you can’t spend more than what you have, at least, not without landing up with a negative balance, which usually means going into debt. But there is such a thing as good debt, and you need to use credit in order to develop a good credit record. The lesson then is to learn how to budget. If you know what’s coming in, what’s going out, and where it’s all going, you’ll have a better idea of where you can cut costs, where you can save, and where you can free up money to give you long-term financial freedom. If you don’t know where to start, download a budget template off the Internet, and modify it to fit your personal and household situation.

 

LESSON 2: SAVE, AND INVEST

There is a subtle, but important, difference between saving and investing – and wealthy people know how to make that difference work for them. Saving involves putting some of your income aside in an interest-bearing bank account. You’re not spending it; you’re keeping it for a rainy day.

 

 

Investing, meanwhile, means putting a portion of your savings to work, in a medium- or long-term investment that will hopefully grow and produce good returns over time. You’ll notice we said “hopefully” there. That’s because investing (unlike saving) involves some risk. You might make a ton of money, but you might also lose some. To get the balance right, speak to a qualified independent financial adviser.

 

LESSON 3: BE CAREFUL WITH FINANCIAL ADVICE

Your friends will recommend a great new bank. Some guy at work will tell you all about a hot new cryptocurrency. Your Uncle Frank will tell you exactly why you’re wasting your time with one investment, and you should rather put all your money into another one. All of them will sound very convincing, but how sure can you be of the numbers and rates they spew? You’ll pay a fee for a financial adviser, but that fee pays for advice that’s independent, informed, and based on years of experience.

 

LESSON 4: SET GOALS

Saving isn’t easy. Investing is even harder because the timeline is so long and your retirement (to pick just one investment example) is years and years and years away.

 

That’s why financial goals are so important. They give you a reason to be responsible with your money and a reminder of what you’re working towards. “Getting rich” is not a goal. Getting rich so that you can retire at age 65 is. Maybe your children are working towards funding their tertiary education; maybe they’re building towards a home or an overseas holiday; maybe it’s a comfortable retirement or a heritage and wealth legacy of their own. Whatever it is, that goal will give their money purpose.