Helping Kids Learn About Money

When I was small, my parents worked hard to try to save on expenses. My mom sewed a lot of our clothes, we ate almost every meal at home, and went on a vacation every couple of years. But when I got my first job while I was in high school, I didn’t have those more frugal tendencies. Instead, I spent almost all of the money I made from each paycheck. I did a little better managing money during my college years, though it was after some hard lessons of bounced checks and bank fees.

It took some time, and eventually I started figuring things out.  But you can help your children learn how to handle money, even before they get their first jobs. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Show your child how to count money. While you can use play money, it’s fun to use real coins and bills as well. Don’t forget to include less-common currency, such as half-dollars, silver dollars, and two-dollar bills. Children also really enjoy holding bigger bills, such as twenties, fifties, and hundreds.

2. Have your child do chores around the house to earn money, such as taking out the trash, sweeping the porch, or washing dishes. You could pay your child per job, or you could pay her a set amount at the end of the week.

3. Teach your child that money is for more than just spending. Money is for saving and giving, too. Instead of just one “piggy bank”, set up three. In the past, we’ve used clear mason jars as banks, labeling each one with either “Spend”, “Save”, or “Give”. That way, the child can see the money as it collects in the jar. Allow your child to use the spending money as he or she would like. Let the savings collect. Teach your child how to give the rest – whether to a church, a charity, or a friend in need.

4. Purchase a wallet or purse for your child to carry the spending money in. Before you go on errands together, bring along some of the money. When your child sees finds something to buy, talk about whether or not he has enough money, or if he’ll have to save a little longer.

5. Help your child plan for a bigger purchase. If there’s an expensive toy your child wants, teach her how to keep collecting her spending money until she has enough. You can make a poster (similar to a fundraising poster) that shows the goal amount and her progress towards the goal.

6. There are lots of books to help you teach your kids about money. Here are just a few to check out:

  • The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money by Ron Lieber
  • Raising Financially Confident Kids by Mary Hunt
  • Raising Financially Fit Kids by Joline Godfrey
  • Smart Money Smart Kids: Raising the Next Generation to Win by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze

What ideas have you used to help your child learn about money?

Photo by: Pictures of Money

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