Whether or not we like to admit it, money is the motivating factor in most of our decisions. Yet, managing it effectively is a tough subject to grasp, especially for young adults.

Considering only one-third of U.S. states require students to take a personal finance class, the onus falls on parents and guardians to impart financial wisdom.

The good news? Your kiddos are eager to know the ins-and-outs of personal finance from you. A recent study found that 84 percent of teenagers want to learn about managing money, and by providing simple lessons, you can greatly improve your child’s odds of leading a successful, financially fit life.

Starting a conversation doesn’t have to be complicated, according to Craig Kaley, the author of Money Athletics: Your Game Plan to a Financially Fit Tween. As part of his Money Athletics program, Kaley sees natural learning opportunities as part of the “strength training” that helps build a money-aware teenager.

Below are six nuggets from Kaley’s book that we think are easy and impactful places to start.

Preach about plastic.

From a very young age, your teen has likely witnessed the following thousands of times: You pull out a plastic card and like magic, you purchase goods and services. You know there’s no magic involved, so next time you use a credit card, explain how credit works, how the card issuer makes its money, and the importance of paying it off.

All roads lead to Rome.

When Kaley’s dishwasher sprung a leak, he enlisted his son to help him determine how to address it. They concluded that calling a repair shop would likely cost around $250 and a new dishwasher would run about $525. His son recommended watching some YouTube videos to assess the situation. That led to the discovery of a loose nut, which when tightened, resolved the issue, saved the family hundreds. The takeaway here,  spending money isn’t the only solution to life’s problems.

Minor inconveniences don’t have to be major spends.

Here’s a situation we have all come across, and presents a valuable teaching moment for how and when to prioritize unexpected expenses. When Kaley’s daughter cracked the screen on her phone and didn’t have enough savings to fix it, she appealed to her parents to cover the shortfall. They refused, she lived with the flawed – but functional – phone. Two months later she had saved enough to cover the repair and a protective case, proving that there are times when it’s ok to get by with what you have.

Monthly allowance for chores…or paycheck as a household employee?

Kaley’s disciplined approach is rooted in a budget that covers baseline expenses such as entertainment, clothing and shoes, birthday gifts for friends, and school meals and supplies, as well as additional funds for an emergency savings account. Instead of awarding an allowance, ‘pay’ your son or daughter on a set schedule so he or she manages their own income. Along the way are opportunities to learn how to handle a debit card, or even decide whether to save for charity, investments, college, or other long-term goals. Schedule meetings to review and monitor developments, so issues can be quickly addressed.

There is no ‘what’, without a ‘why’.

You know big expenses such as family vacations and automobiles require some financial forethought, especially when taking recurring expenses into consideration. But do your kids know that? Have them help analyze options, tradeoffs, and the related costs of such purchases. At the very least, it will help them understand the importance of living within your means.

A good teacher is always learning.

It’s safe to assume that a majority of adults have run into a financial snafu at least once in the past year, if not once in the past week. Kaley shared personal anecdote to reiterate this point, as he secured a $175 speeding ticket that cut into dining plans on a vacation, because his emergency savings account fell short. As you modify your own habits, share your mistakes to reinforce that financial fitness is a lifelong process.

Teachable moments regularly arise in the day-to-day course of your life, waiting to be seized upon to reinforce healthy choices and habits. By capitalizing on these opportunities — and any others you may identify in the course of living your life — kids can conceptualize how healthy financial habits form.

By discussing these behaviors on a regular basis, you’re removing the mystery around money that can hinder the understanding of personal finances, and forge path to responsible money management.

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