Whether your kids are toddlers or teens, there’s never a wrong time to start teaching them about money management. Keeping track of your finances is essential to maintain your fiscal health, pay off debts, and save for long-term goals.
If you’re not sure how to introduce the topic, consider the tips below. From setting an example to trying a fun activity, there are plenty of fun ways to teach kids about budgeting.
One way to teach your kids about budgeting is to set an example. Ideally, you should already have a budget that outlines your income and monthly expenses, such as mortgage or rent payments, utilities, groceries, car insurance, and more. Sit down with your children and go over this list.
Review your spending and explain where the money you earn goes. With the money that you don’t spend each month, explain where you put it and why. This opportunity is an excellent time to talk about the importance of saving and why you shouldn’t spend every penny you have.
When talking about money and how to budget it, explain needs vs. wants. If your children are in school, they’ll likely notice their peers have items they don’t — certain clothes, toys, accessories, etc. As a result, they may ask you to buy them things.
Use this moment as a teaching experience. Help your children identify what they need, such as food, water, shelter, and clothing, and the things they want — items that are nice to have around, such as toys and electronics. Discuss how, when you earn money, you have to decide how to use it. If you spend it all on what you want, you won’t have enough for what you need.
It may be hard for your child to understand the true cost of certain things if they’ve never bought the items themselves. Next time you go to the store — whether it’s for groceries or clothes — take your child along. When you add something to the cart, indicate the price and show them how to subtract it from your budget.
Talk about the cost of items versus income. For instance, say your child earns $20 per month as an allowance. If they want a video game that’s $40, they’ll have to save for two months. Afterward, they’ll have depleted their savings and will need to start from scratch.
A child who lacks any work experience may not understand the value of a dollar. To help them understand, determine chores they can complete that they’ll be given an allowance for. For instance, you may ask your child to take out the trash, empty the dishwasher, and help fold laundry. In exchange, they can earn $20 each month.
If your child is old enough, you can also encourage them to apply for their first job. Some first-time positions could include retail cashier, dishwasher at a restaurant, lifeguard, babysitter, and camp counselor.
Kid-friendly activities are a great way to learn more about money. If your children are young, try reading an age-appropriate book, such as “Curious George Saves His Pennies” by Margret & H.A. Rey. This book centers around the importance of saving up to purchase the items you want, like a toy.
Another option is “One Cent, Two Cents, Old Cent, New Cent: All About Money” by Bonnie Worth. This Cat in the Hat book provides a simple, easy-to-understand look at the history of money, including banking and minting coins. Once done reading, ask your kids what they’ve learned.
For more hands-on learning, we offer a variety of kid-friendly budgeting and financial activities on our WalletWorks page.
Help your child set up checking and savings accounts online. Teach them how they can deposit money and how funds in savings will earn interest over time. As your child watches their balance grow, they’ll get excited and want to add more.
Teach your kids how to write checks and what they may need them for. For instance, many people use checks to pay for rent or utility bills. You should also teach them the importance of monitoring their account, which they can do online or from a mobile device.
Budgeting isn’t a complex topic that requires textbooks and visual charts to teach. Try some of the fun tips above, such as walking through a store or opening a bank account. With a push in the right direction, your child will become more money-savvy and ready to take on the world.
To learn more about budgeting your finances, check out our WalletWorks page.