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What was your favorite thing to talk about as a kid? Maybe it was dinosaurs, or Barbie or the Magic Treehouse book series. It probably wasn’t compound interest. Getting kids excited about investing can pay off for the rest of their lives — but how do you do it?
Here are six strategies to help get kids interested in investing for good.
1. Make it relatable
Explaining what investing is and why people should care about it can feel like an exercise in futility — the jargon, the math, all the acronyms — but at its core, investing is incredibly simple. Investing means taking the money you already have and using it to make more money without having to do any additional work. When talking with kids, stay away from “Roth IRA,” “dividends” and “return on investment,” and instead focus on the basics.
The language should be simple: If you have $100 now, and you invest it, you may have $110 later. Then, that extra $10 you earned will start earning money, too. You can play around with an investment calculator to help them visualize how their money could earn more money over time.
And while it’s good to be skeptical of financial advice on social media, there are some great sources of information that may help get kids more interested in money management.
“I got started with the help of YouTube,” says Ariana Bribiesca, a content creator based in Malibu, California, who started investing at age 16 and now runs the TikTok account Ari Invests. “I spent about 10 months doing research before I decided to open up my brokerage account.”
Bribiesca got introduced to investing through social media, particularly through her YouTube recommendation page, which showcased videos about credit cards, the college application process, starting a business, and investing.
2. Have them invest in what they're into
One way to get a kid excited about investing, according to Riley Adams, a certified personal accountant and founder of Young and the Invested in Pleasanton, California, is to help them connect with brands they like.
“Instead of saying, ‘I shop at Nike,’ or ‘I use Snapchat,’ it actually lets you go a step further and gets you involved by not just spending your money with these companies, but making money on things you already do,” Adams says.
Investing in brands kids are excited about may help them feel a more personal connection to the experience. If they’re invested in their favorite store, shopping there may feel like they’re helping make their own stock more valuable instead of just spending money.
3. Make it a game
Investing itself may not be something kids are interested in, but turning it into a game may help your kids feel more excited about it — especially if there’s a chance they can beat you at it.
“Gamification is definitely a big thing, so find little ways to make it seem more like a game, and it's more fun to get involved with,” Adams says.
You can have regular contests to see who can make more money on their investments, with the winner earning a prize in addition to whatever profits they make; or see who can better predict what happens to the stock market based on what’s happening in the news.
Just like players can lose when playing a game, investors can lose money. Helping a child understand the risks is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to helping them develop a healthy relationship with investing.
4. Get them some practice
If you don’t want to risk real money, you can open a paper trading account for kids, which allows them to simulate the investing experience for free.
“I practiced with fake money before investing my own money for about two months,” Bribiesca says. “I used the app Stock Market Simulator which gave me $10,000 of simulated money to invest. I showed my parents my entire journey with it and would even force them to watch a couple YouTube videos with me so they understood what I was learning.”
If the kids in your life are ready to start investing for real, you can help them open a 529 plan to help them save for college, a Roth IRA to get a jump on retirement, or a custodial brokerage account for general investing.
5. Help them make it a habit
Making a habit stick requires repeating the behavior again and again. If you’re trying to help a child stick with investing for good, they’ll need to get in the habit of doing so early.
If you give a child an allowance or pay them for small jobs around the house, help develop their investing habit by teaching them to take a portion of their earnings and put it toward investing for the future. This can help cement the habit and make it something they do regularly as they get older.
6. Talk openly about money
While some adults may not want to discuss finances in front of the kids, it may be more beneficial for children to see healthy financial behaviors and conversations modeled for them. If they never hear adults talking about investing or budgeting, or are told that talking about money is inappropriate, they may not have the tools to deal with financial conversations when they get older.
“Overall, it is important for parents to include their kids in talks about money and slowly introduce them to different topics or resources,” Bribiesca says. “It is important to include them because kids like to imitate their parents and follow their footsteps when they notice something can be very rewarding.”
Neither the author nor editor held positions in the aforementioned investments at the time of publication.