Thursday, April 14, 2016

Talk With Our Kids About Money Day, Powered by BMO #TWOKAM

Have you had "the talk" with your kids yet? It can be a little scary, especially when you feel you could use some help in the area yourself. But it's really important to broach the topic early and often. Financial literacy is a major life skill, and talking with kids about money matters sets the stage for a more comfortable future. (You were thinking of another "talk?" That one's important too, but we'll save that for another post.)

My brother and I had our own bank accounts as kids, and I remember how thrilling it was to go into the bank and get our bank books updated. I also remember my Mom teaching me how to balance a cheque book in my teens. Oh how I hated that task. But I did it. Do kids even know how to write a cheque these days? It's a skill that is quickly becoming irrelevant. But keeping an eye on balances, and understanding interest, borrowing, and credit cards will always be necessary. It's our job to teach our kids how to handle their money so they don't find themselves in financial trouble as young adults.

For instance, with both our boys, I've made a point of letting them make their own purchases with their own money whenever possible. You get $20 from the grandparents? You want three different things? Well, let's do the math, decide priorities and then head to the store. Allowing them to make the transaction themselves, counting out their coins, receiving change, are all important learning activities. We still sit down with Boo when his quarterly bank statement comes in so we can discuss how much he earned in interest and why that's important. The discussion goes far beyond my father's oft-quoted, "Money doesn't grow on trees!" although that has come out of my mouth too, on more than one occasion.

To help parents instill financial know-how in their kids, April 20 marks BMO’s Talk With Our Kids About Money Day. BMO Financial Group helped launch the Talk With Our Kids About Money (TWOKAM) program with the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education (CFEE) in 2013, making this BMO’s 4th year of partnership. The program provides tools and resources for parents that we can use in everyday conversations with our kids. Normalizing the conversation (as with that other talk) goes a long way towards getting the lessons to stick, and helping our kids feel comfortable coming to us with questions as time goes on.

The TWOKAM program is a free resource that can assist families at any income level, in both French and English. And there are resources for the classroom as well as the home setting. You can get all the details at That site is available year-round to keep the conversation going, but designating an annual day to focus the conversation gives a great starting point.

Head on over and check out the site for ideas. There are online games to play, movie suggestions to watch, money related songs on YouTube, and more. Each resource is presented along with information on the target age group, the skills to be learned, and how you can help your kids put their learning into action with follow-up tasks. For instance, the 5-7 crowd can watch an Elmo video, "For Me, For You, For Later," and learn about earning, saving, and spending money. There are resources suitable for teens as well, including discussion guides for watching such movies as "Jerry Maguire" or "The Pursuit of Happyness."  Financial literacy and a movie is a great combination for an evening with your big guys; I love sneaking in teachable moments :)

Of course it is important to keep a focus on financial literacy throughout the year, and BMO is committed to providing Canadians with the information we need. In addition to their partnership with the CFEE, they have launched, a site to provide Canadians with financial tips for all our big life events. And there's a dedicated page with more resources for talking with your children about money - The site is packed with articles like this one - "5 Fun Ways to Help Your Preschooler Learn About Money." It's never too early, or too late, to start!

Supporting our children's financial literacy is a vital parenting role, and I know I can use all the help I can get. I'm happy to learn about these resources and to share them with you all. Now I'm off to re-visit the site and choose a couple of financial literacy building activities I can enjoy with Boo on April 20!

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Disclosure: This post is brought to you by BMO. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

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