It all starts with a conversation. Having the money talk with you kids and sharing lessons on how to embrace a healthy financial lifestyle is one of the best things you can give your children. Starting off with the basics helps you instill good money habits early on.

Here are some things to think about.

Monkey see, monkey do

At an early age, kids watch you spend money on all sorts of things. Naturally, they start to understand this exchange of money for goods or services. A big part of teaching is becoming a good example and a great place to start is the grocery store.

Start by limiting impulse buys (that’s one you’ll both benefit from). Practice saying no to the last minute candy or drinks they ask for in line. That’s not a habit you want to rub off on them.

Show them the importance of sticking to a list. They can even help by being in charge of grabbing certain items. And, start to teach them how to compare items based on quality and price. You’ll help develop habits you will want them to mimic later in life.

But, mom, I neeeed it!

Almost every time your child walks into a store she’ll find something she wants. Begin having the conversations to explain the difference between things you need and things you want. Not everything is a necessity.

This is also a good place to start having conversations about saving. If your child has identified something she really wants, explain that if she puts enough money away she’ll be able to buy that item. Saying no isn’t easy (especially, when they can be so cute!) but, in the long run, you’re teaching an important lesson.

Oink oink

To encourage your kids to start saving, they need some place to put it and watch it grow. Start with a pink, snout-nosed friend. A piggy bank is a fun way to start the savings conversation.

Encourage your children to feed their piggies with money they get from birthdays, holidays or the Tooth Fairy. They can even add change they find on the ground or in the couch cushions. They’ll be able to easily count their money and watch it grow!

Once they’ve become a pro, think about advancing to the next level and open a kid’s savings account. Maybe once the funds in the piggy bank reach a certain level, that’s when you make a trip to the bank. This teaches your child about financial growth, safety and security.

Money doesn’t grow on trees

It’s important that children understand the value of money early on. Explain that you earn money from hard work. During the money talk is a great time to set up chores for your little ones so they have another source from which to help them save. It will help them begin to take on responsibility and understand how to earn income. It also shows them that, because it’s not easy to make money, you don’t want to spend it faster than you make it.

At Wintrust, we believe teaching kids about money is the first step to a healthy financial future. That’s why our Junior Savers Club® offers a special account for children, as well as fun events, movie days, and giveaways all year long.