Patricia Lovett-Reid

You have no doubt told them time and time again that it doesn't grow on trees, but what else have you taught your children about money? While we all want to raise a generation of kids with money management skills, many parents feel that they themselves are not financially-savvy enough to pass on knowledge about money, saving and budgeting. A recent Ipsos-Reid poll found almost three-quarters of Canadians surveyed do not strongly agree that they are confident with their math and money management skills as they relate to helping plan for a secure financial future. Nearly eight out of 10 said they are not fully confident in their ability to teach money skills to another person.

Here are some tips that could come in handy when helping your munchkins on the path to building a strong financial future.

While it is never too late to start teaching your kids about money, it's best to lay the financial foundation at a very early age. You may be surprised to learn that children's attitudes towards money develop very early on. For young kids, parents are an important influence. By reflecting positive attitudes about money and financial management, you will help foster habits that will last a lifetime.

The challenges are different as children grow. Make sure they understand money concepts appropriate for their age group. Try to keep explanations simple, fun and let the kids learn at their own pace.

Anyone who has witnessed a little one watching a toy commercial on TV knows that kids want every shiny new thing on the market. Self-control is something that takes time and practice to develop.

Kids around kindergarten age can be taught simple ideas about money. This is when we can teach them what money is — that coins have different amounts and how they can be stacked and sorted.

This is when they can also learn that money doesn't get replaced — if you lose it, it is gone, and it has to be kept in a safe place, like a piggy bank, and ultimately a financial institution.

Older children can learn about money with a weekly allowance. They can choose to spend the allowance on an extra treat, or save it for a bigger purchase later. They will learn early about the types of decisions we have to make about money management throughout our lives. If your child receives an allowance or money from aunts and uncles or grandparents as gifts, suggest they split their money into separate money jars for saving, spending and giving.

Creating a budget with your children will help them understand what different items cost and that they have to make choices to stay on budget.

A family savings goal is something the whole family can participate in. Saving money on groceries, for example, can mean extra money for an exciting family vacation. Instead of thinking of it as another boring meal, "tuna casserole again?" it can be seen as a step towards that goal.

Money management is about delaying gratification and making choices. Teenagers can be shown that if they budget now, they will be able to work towards that new Wii console or iPad that they have been eyeing. Summer jobs and part-time work are important steps towards financial independence. This is also a good time to help set the groundwork for future savings plans. File a tax return for each child who had a part-time job, or other income, to establish their contribution room for an RSP. He or she can start contributing a few dollars into the RSP, providing an opportunity to explain to them the benefits of opening a retirement plan at a young age.

Your attitude towards money will influence your children more than you might realize, so you want to send the right messages. Make sure you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to money goals, or are able to discuss your differences without anger or frustration. As they grow older, don't be afraid to discuss money matters in front of the kids. You don't have to get into too many details, but it will be good for them to hear the types of decisions grown-ups must make about how to spend and save money.

Teach kids to become self-reliant, pursue their interests and work towards a career or start a business. Motivate them to develop a good work ethic. Reward them for positive achievements such as graduating and getting their first job.

Education is a great investment and it goes beyond just schooling. Educating children in money management from an early age will give them the tools and confidence to manage their personal finances. It will also give you the peace of mind and satisfaction in knowing that you have set them on the right path.