Have you taught your children about investing? As your child becomes more aware of money and other financial concepts, it is vital that you arm them with some important investment knowledge. Read on to find out how to impart some investing smarts to your children. If you don't have the basic knowledge required for investing, and need to learn more yourself, read Investing 101: A Tutorial For Beginner Investors before we start.

Investing Should Be a Family Activity
Some parents are guilty of not discussing personal finance with their children, and almost all parents are guilty of not discussing investing with their children. Investing should be a family activity. Children mature at different rates, so it may take some time before your child is ready to tackle concepts like portfolio creation and asset allocation; however, the basics of investing can be taught quite young.

Risk and Reward
Before you have your kids spending Saturdays at the library using the internet to check company profiles, you will have to explain risk and reward. Risk is the possibility that an investment will lose some or all of its value. Reward is the percentage of gain that your investment experiences over time - the return on investment (ROI).

Below we will sketch a brief picture of the two more common investments: debt securities and stocks.

Easy Ideas to Tell Your Kids About: Stocks
Stocks are variable risk, variable return investments. On the whole, they are categorized as high risk and high return. You have to make it clear that all the risks involved in the stock markets can't be predicted.

Enron and other companies have proved that accounting sheets can be tampered with and CEOs can lie. But even with the unknown risks, the stock market is a strong investment because, over time, it has seen a general rise.

SEE: Stocks Basics

Easy Ideas to Tell Your Kids About: Debt Securities
A bond is a low-risk, low-return investment. Typically, bonds pay only a small amount over the prime interest rate because they are backed by stable institutions (usually banks or governments). You can buy bonds from unstable regions of the world that offer better returns, but these countries often have unstable governments, so you can't necessarily count on getting that return down the road.

Therefore, it may be best start your child with stocks and explain that bonds become more important as you age and need guaranteed investments. Your child will probably not have enough money to make bonds worthwhile, and may actually lose money to inflation.

Getting Your Child's Attention
When you are checking your stocks, show your child the companies of which you own a small part. If you own any exciting companies that might be of interest to your children - plane manufacturers like Boeing, sports equipment specialists like Bauer, technology and video game companies like Sony - make sure that you request the company's current investor relations package, or print it off the internet, so that you can show your child more about those companies, including how much they earned, what they make and how many people work for them.

Then you can ask your child what company he or she would like to buy. Children have favorites even if they are not aware of them. For example, Nike, Nintendo, Sony and Disney are popular with most children. Once again, you can go on the internet or write a letter to these companies to get a copy of the investor's package. This will give your child something interesting to flip through, even though he or she may not understand all the papers inside. Disney, for example, has an investor relations newsletter that features a rotating cast of characters parading through their announcements.

Buying and Tracking
Once you have introduced your child to some basic concepts, you can sit down together allow him or her to select a company. If you have the money, you can buy the stock and track it with your child. You should give the statements to him or her to keep in a financial binder (you can add his or her banking information here also and separate the two different sections with a divider). If you don't have the money, make an artificial portfolio and track the stock for fun. You can even do it on this site: try out Investopedia's Stock Simulator.

You and your child can follow your stocks with daily, weekly and monthly summaries on Yahoo! Finance.

When your child is older, you can provide a more in-depth explanation of stocks and other investments. Eventually, you want to let your children buy their own stocks. Your child may have enough cash diligently saved up in a savings account by the time he or she is interested in investing. Don't put it all into a bond or the stock market, but invest a third in each and keep a third in savings. This will allow your child to compare the performance of a savings bond, stocks of his or her choosing and the interest from a bank account.

If your child doesn't have any money, you have two options. You can use $100 of your own money to open a discount brokerage account for your child to make investments through, or you can continue to use an artificial portfolio of stocks that your child wants to buy some day. In the latter case, you will need to find ways to maintain your child's motivation.

Conclusion
If you are able to pick stocks together and track them when your children are young, they will get a sense of the up-and-down cycles that stocks go through. This understanding will prepare them for riding out market fluctuations and making informed decisions when others panic.

During all this, you want to allow your child to make real decisions and take real risks. Yes, your child may lose money, but the purpose of this exercise is to familiarize your child with investing. Part of this exercise is learning that any investment has advantages and disadvantages. Your child may not make a fortune, but the experience of gaining and losing money is almost as valuable.

To read more youth-related articles, see Savings Plans For Minors, Encouraging Good Habits With An Incentive Trust and Retirement Savings Tips For 18- To 24-Year-Olds.

Related Articles
  1. Options & Futures

    What Does Quadruple Witching Mean?

    In a financial context, quadruple witching refers to the day on which contracts for stock index futures, index options, and single stock futures expire.
  2. Options & Futures

    4 Equity Derivatives And How They Work

    Equity derivatives offer retail investors opportunities to benefit from an underlying security without owning the security itself.
  3. Options & Futures

    Five Advantages of Futures Over Options

    Futures have a number of advantages over options such as fixed upfront trading costs, lack of time decay and liquidity.
  4. Term

    What is Pegging?

    Pegging refers to the practice of fixing one country's currency to that of another country. It also describes a practice in which investors avoid purchasing security shares underlying a put option.
  5. Economics

    Why Enron Collapsed

    Enron’s collapse is a classic example of greed gone wrong.
  6. Home & Auto

    Understanding Pre-Qualification Vs. Pre-Approval

    Contrary to popular belief, being pre-qualified for a mortgage doesn’t mean you’re pre-approved for a home loan.
  7. Investing Basics

    An Introduction To Structured Products

    Structured products take a traditional security and replace its usual payment features with a non-traditional payoff.
  8. Options & Futures

    Contango Versus Normal Backwardation

    It’s important for both hedgers and speculators to know whether the commodity futures markets are in contango or normal backwardation.
  9. Investing Basics

    What Does Contango Mean?

    Contango​ is when the futures price of a commodity is higher than the expected future spot price.
  10. Options & Futures

    The Short Guide To Insure Stock Market Losses

    The best ways to hedge against losses are to diversify your portfolio and to use a variety of options.
RELATED FAQS
  1. What is a derivative?

    A derivative is a contract between two or more parties whose value is based on an agreed-upon underlying financial asset, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is after-hours trading? Am I able to trade at this time?

    After-hours trading (AHT) refers to the buying and selling of securities on major exchanges outside of specified regular ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How do hedge funds use equity options?

    With the growth in the size and number of hedge funds over the past decade, the interest in how these funds go about generating ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Can mutual funds invest in options and futures? (RYMBX, GATEX)

    Mutual funds invest in not only stocks and fixed-income securities but also options and futures. There exists a separate ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How does a forward contract differ from a call option? (AAPL)

    Forward contracts and call options are different financial instruments that allow two parties to purchase or sell assets ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How can an investor profit from a fall in the utilities sector?

    The utilities sector exhibits a high degree of stability compared to the broader market. This makes it best-suited for buy-and-hold ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Presidential Election Cycle (Theory)

    A theory developed by Yale Hirsch that states that U.S. stock markets are weakest in the year following the election of a ...
  2. Super Bowl Indicator

    An indicator based on the belief that a Super Bowl win for a team from the old AFL (AFC division) foretells a decline in ...
  3. Flight To Quality

    The action of investors moving their capital away from riskier investments to the safest possible investment vehicles. This ...
  4. Discouraged Worker

    A person who is eligible for employment and is able to work, but is currently unemployed and has not attempted to find employment ...
  5. Ponzimonium

    After Bernard Madoff's $65 billion Ponzi scheme was revealed, many new (smaller-scale) Ponzi schemers became exposed. Ponzimonium ...
  6. Quarterly Earnings Report

    A quarterly filing made by public companies to report their performance. Included in earnings reports are items such as net ...
Trading Center