Financial Milestones For Your Child: Age-by-Age Guide


Financial Milestones For Your Child: Age-by-Age Guide

How Do We Teach Our Children about Money? 

Setting and tracking financial milestones for your child is as important as the physical development milestones we track with the pediatrician or the growth marks on our kitchen post because early money skills such as savings, budgeting and planning for purchases promotes financial literacy and prepares them for life on their own.
Here are some financial milestones for the different ages and stages of your child:

Baby Steps – Financial Milestones for Ages 3 – 5 years:

The important concepts they need to learn at this stage are that:

  • Money is the currency we use to buy things
  • Money is the reward of working or being productive
  • Using Bargains, Deals and Coupons is a smart way to save money.

Fun activities like rewarding them for good grades and behavior with deposits in their piggy banks, teaching them to identify coins and bills, setting up pretend store games and teach shopping with real money. You can give a child a dollar and teach choices and value in selecting what they can spend that money on. Also compare prices of items in the store and differentiate between branded and non-branded items.

Training Wheels – Financial Milestones for Ages 6 – 9 years:

The important concepts our kids need here are:

  • They cannot buy everything in sight or everything they want.
  • Savings and Interest – What are banks and why do we need them?
  • Cultivate a habit of saving part of their gifts and allowance.

This is a great time to start a child on an allowance and teach them how to appropriate their money, learn delayed gratification by saving for big-ticket items and using money as a tool to help solve the problems of others by contributing to a cause or charity. For religious people, the practice of tithing brings blessings and this is a wonderful time to introduce that principle. Learning to be generous is one of the most important financial milestones.

Opening a savings account at your local bank, also helps them understand the concept of savings, safety and interest. Track balances and let them watch it grow with each deposit, that will help build a habit of putting money aside regularly.

office-73340_6401In David M. Schwartz’s “How much is a Million?” and “If you made a million” stories, Marvelosissimo the Mathematical Magician, teaches the various forms of money and concept of a million, a billion, and a trillion, easy for children to understand and makes the functions of the bank seem less intimidating. This great Scholastic video series is fun and entertaining for the kids, while teaching them life skills.

Skate-Boarding through the Park – Financial Milestones for Ages 10 – 15 years

The important concepts to learn at this stage are:

  • Compound Interest and the Advantages of starting to save early
  • The pitfalls of borrowing money and Credit cards
  • Taxes!

By this time, most of our young ones may have earned steady allowances or some income through chores like cutting lawns, dog walking or paper drives etc.They also have saved some of their earnings.
Talk about a 529 savings fund for college and show them the advantages of compound interest and use an online calculator to show the difference between starting at age 10 versus 20, and how interest earns more interest.Personally, It’s always exciting to see how their eyes open wide, as they get it!
Credit has it’s benefits, but we need to teach them to avoid owing interest on credit cards and how to be smart about credit and borrowing money. Review your paycheck and the deductions to teach them that Uncle Sam will be taking a part of their earnings, even before they get to it.

Preparing to Leave the Nest – Financial Milestones for Ages 16 – 22 years

If they haven’t met any of the last financial milestones or you started late, don’t panic…it’s better late than never. They are starting to plan for college, a real job or career, getting their own apartments and be more financially independent. These concepts will help in their transition to financial adulthood:

  • Maintaining a budget and planning for monthly expenses
  • Determine career path and educational goals to achieve their dreams
  • Emergency Preparedness  – Emergency savings and Health insurance
  • Retirement Accounts  – 401(k)s, IRAs, Roth IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts
  • The importance and advantages of a good credit score.

If you are not watching entertaining financial shows like Suze Orman, Mad Money, Shark Tank, How I made my Millions, etc. with them by now, this would be a good time to start. Reward them for doing it at first and as they start learning to get financially empowered, they’ll love watching on their own.


school-73497_640Teach them how to budget by opening an account with a debit card and let them manage some of their costs. If you can afford to match their savings like a 401(k) up till a certain cap, that will model the real world and also give you access. (We know they like to hide information from us, except when it benefits them!)

Also use an online calculator and show how money grows faster in tax-advantaged accounts. Calculate and agree on the amount of emergency cash they should keep, experts recommend at least six-months living expenses and thankfully, The Affordable Care Act requires plans and issuers to offer dependent coverage available until a child reaches the age of 26.

Pull and review a free credit report from Annual Credit Report and educate the child about the implications of collections and low scores on everything from renting an apartment to finding a job.

We want our children to succeed out in the world and when we empower them with knowledge, we are helping to achieve these important financial milestones and mature into financial winners.



Boarding School Days at Feddy

Visiting Sunday @ FGGC Owerri

Visiting Sunday @ FGGC Owerri – Some 30 years ago!

“Hey! you in that yellow dress…come here. Don’t make me chase you!”

Somewhere in my peripheral vision, I could see someone pointing at me and gesturing wildly. These were the times I wished I could be a ghost, a phantom, a whisper or  any kind of unseen being in boarding school. My yellow-checked day dress embraced my dread and trailed behind my bony ankles as I trudged across the lush field to attend to the senior student’s needs.

Her dagger-like fingernails pegged my ear lobes, a painful reminder that my name would be Hey, till years gave me power and senior status. The summons would be followed by commands, I would be dismissed with grunts, only to be hunted – another day like prey across the green fields between yellow house and Class 1Z .

In Nigerian culture, you don’t wake up in the morning and toss a greeting to your parents like it’s a frisbee. Respect and reverence was the norm. Our elders and these seniors students took their sense of entitlement to rocket-propelled heights. Our junior years in a girls’ boarding school were grueling – we did their laundry, fetched endless buckets of water, scrubbed floors and cleaned the dormitories. Sometimes we just provided entertainment like breakdancing or singing when the senior students got bored.

I got a lucky break when a senior prefect came to my rescue and assigned me to classroom and notice board duties. So instead of the back-breaking hard labor required in the dorms,  I made banners, arranged articles and learnt cursive and incredible ways to make the letter y and g become even more awesome, with feathered or sprouting curves and bold swirls on those huge banners.

Friends and kindness made years go by as we crept under the windows of  these upper class seniors to get to class or the school tuck-shop. The highlight of each month was visiting Sunday, when our families came to spend the day. We smuggled banned delicacies and specialties. My mother (the beauty in the middle) cooked stewed  jellof  rice, fried beef & chicken, corn on the cob and african pears and replenished our school supplies and groceries.

We took pictures, posing with our chicken wings – like we had something to prove.  For those who think I made this picture thing up, that’s us sucking on chicken wings. (My sister and I are the skinnies’ on the front row, our then baby sister in a striped top between us, flanked by our brother and friends) There’s an unidentified  peeping-betsy on the side.

I spent all my allowance on Bartho’s whatyoumaycallit rolls and ice-cream Saturdays and escaped into Mills & Boons and Harlequin idiotic fantasies of deft brassière snapping bad boys. Somehow it never occurred to me that these were not African guys. Well, now I’ve seen the light (inside joke).

It has been over thirty years but our experience, like a stiff, strong drink, remains intoxicating and is yet to wear off. I created my FB page yesterday and again my Feddy sisters showed up to support me. Thanks for remaining dear friends, and forever sisters!

Thank You, Mom!

thumbnail.aspxI know, today is not Mother’s Day and I am not trying to toot my horn here, but as I was getting my son ready for school last week, and this incredible wave of love stirred me…and got me thinking about someone who loves me forever, someone always concerned about me. And I had to pause, blow her a kiss and say “Thank you, Mom

Just like I considered, while helping him get dressed today, she must have also had the same recurring thought, “Is this cute enough?”.  She had her hands full, with four girls and a boy to primp! I want my son to look loved and cared for everyday, whether it’s a field trip or simply another day in Mrs. P’s  3rd grade class, so it’s no coincidence that he is the cutest boy in the class pictures and one of the smartest too.

It’s the little things… like  I know he likes beans, so I make a sauce for him to go with it, instead of  drab canned beans. This seems trivial, but a mother’s mind addresses every minuscule detail and my Mom’s love set the standard and example to follow.

She made my siblings and I feel that we mattered and validated each of us uniquely. Mom made us personal T-shirts, with inscriptions as “Future Hope” , “Sweet One” , “Angel” , “Blessed” and so on, call it corny….all I know she was speaking into our future.

Maybe, somehow she knew her time would be short here on earth, even though I was eight when I got my first t-shirt, that hot weekend afternoon was one of my fondest childhood memories. I write to evoke a smile from her in the heavens, she did not live out the fullness of her destiny, but I can and with each word, I am paving my path and making her proud.

I am often marvel at how incredibly brave the motherless are,  we are specially blessed who have experienced the heartbeat of a mother’s love, the safe anchor in the always open arms, the warmth in her ever watchful gaze, which lights up, as we step into the room. Our consummate master at channeling love, while saying , “No”. Her unconditional acceptance stems from carrying a gift that is never fully unwrapped even after nine months of pregnancy.

The one who sees your cracked lips and reaches into her purse for a lip balm, and even when you are all grown up, still grooms you – straightening your tie, picking out gunk from every accessible crevice. She is your exclusive chef, noting your favorite meals, your first-aid nurse, the front-row seat witness and comfort at all your heart breaks.  And when grace gives you a blessing or an award, we hear the enduring refrain, “Thank you, this is for you, Mom” and if she has passed on, grown men cry , “If only she could see me now….”

In Psalms 20:10, the orphan-spirit plight is forever settled, as David by faith declares  that “When my father and my mother forsakes me, then the LORD will take care of  me” So He has been your EL SHADDAI , God Almighty, All Sufficient. As one of  the Hebrew names of God, this also translates to the many breasted One or of the womb, invoking the mother-image or female of God and His complete sufficiency to nurture and nourish. He expresses love, comfort, tenderness and care to whoever reaches out and that’s why grace smiles on you.

Thank You MomMotherhood is the highest calling of a woman’s life..and not necessarily with your biological child, and it should not matter if your mother didn’t or couldn’t fulfill her own calling,  if you have ever spoken truth in the darkness, ever dreamed greatness and joy for someone else,  denied your pride and self for another’s good, comforted a pain you didn’t cause, rejoiced for gain that wasn’t yours, or simply listened, been a comfort and an inspiration to someone else, then you have answered the sacred call to birth life into seeds that needed nurturing to blossom.

So all over the world, Thank you Mothers. Thank you Mother Teresa , Oprah and my big sister, Itumi.

I read my handmade sign at the head of my son’s bed that says, “Genius!” and know that I am in some way, fulfilling my role as seer, prophet and most importantly, mother.  I am grateful to have learnt from one of the very best. Her name is “Imah” translated “love” in the Annang language. So, Mom – this is for you…. I hope I made you smile today.

Thank You, God.
Thank You, Love.
Thank You, Mom.

With Gratitude,