From personal finance writer Michelle Bowes comes Money Queens – the only money guide out there for teen girls! It covers all the must-know money basics like saving and budgeting and bigger topics like credit cards, buy now, pay later services, superannuation and investing. In this column, Michelle shares the five money basics to teach your kids during their high school years. 

If you’re anything like most Australian adults, you were probably taught that money isn’t something ‘polite’ people talk about. But we do need to talk about it and, more importantly, we need to teach our kids about it while they’re at school – before bad habits have the chance to take root. But what, exactly, should we be teaching them?

Saving is a life skill

It might not seem that important when they’re young and the amount of money they have is small, but neither of these things will be true forever! If kids learn the discipline of saving – both for things they want to buy, and just to have some money behind them – before they hit 18, they’ll have a good foundation for managing their money as adults.

Money is not gender equal

I’m talking about the gender pay gap (13.8%), the gender retirement gap (23.4%) and the fact that double the number of women than men are victims of financial abuse (15.7% v. 7.1%). Tell your kids. The biggest thing we can all do to drive change in these areas is to talk about them.

Credit is not their friend

Credit can be helpful, and, for most people, it’s necessary for life’s bigger expenses, like paying for university and buying a home. But unless it has the potential to grow their wealth, teach your kids that debt is bad. Buy now pay later may have replaced plastic as the credit of choice for younger generations but regardless of the credit product, small debts always have the potential to snowball into big problems.

Budgeting is the bomb

A budget is really just a plan for your money, and when it comes to money management the old adage that ‘planning prevents poor performance’ rings true. Like with saving, the earlier kids are taught to budget, the more ingrained it will become. You’ll be giving them a good money habit they can fall back on forever.

Money can create change

Today’s teens are a socially aware bunch, but they can feel powerless about their ability to influence society. Teach them that one way they can create change is through their money: where they shop, who they bank with, who they open a super account with and how their super is invested. They can use these choices to support things they believe in, such as recycling, clean energy or gender equality, and avoid those they don’t, like modern slavery or fossil fuels.

This article was first published by educate (Kiddo Mag) on June 21.