8 Fun Ways to Teach Your Child About Money
As adults, the ways that we spend, save, and manage our money can be serious business. But as kids, this doesn’t have to be the case. Whether your child is taking their first steps or saving for their first big purchase, teaching children about money often works best when you add some fun and games to the experience.
Try out some of these activities focused on financial literacy for kids. You’re sure to find a game that’s fun for both of you.
1. Get Hands-on
Once your young child is old enough to safely hold small objects, introduce them to everyday coins and dollar bills. Help them sort money by size and color, and begin introducing words like penny, quarter, and dollar. This will reinforce the idea that there are different kinds of money. Be sure to wash their hands when you’re done.
2. Get Creative
One fun way to help your child learn the names of coins is through coloring pages, such as those available from the U.S. Mint. Give your child crayons and say, “Color in the penny.” Or, “Color in the quarter.” Have real money on hand so they can compare their work to the actual thing.
3. Go Shopping at Home
Once they’re starting to identify different denominations, teach your child about the value of different types and amounts of money by opening your own “grocery store” at home. You can use play food, or food items made out of play dough, along with a toy cash register if you own one. Show your child the specific amount of money (real or play) needed to pay for each item.
4. Decorate Money Jars
Get three jars and label them “Save,” “Spend,” and “Share.” Let your child decorate the jars to their heart’s content. As your child receives allowance, birthday, and Tooth Fairy money, have them divide up their money into jars. This shows them how to set different priorities for their money: short-term wants/needs (like a candy bar), long-term goals (a toy or game), and giving (such as a birthday present for their younger sibling). As they add to all three jars, point out how your child’s “Save” jar continues to fill while the “Spend” jar does not.
5. Turn Work Into Fun
Understanding the value of money depends on knowing the value of work. Once your child is old enough to do chores, help them create and decorate a weekly chore chart. Completed items get a check mark, smiley face, or sticker. This can help your child connect the work they do with their allowance or other incentive they receive (such as a trip to the movies).
6. Gamify Grocery Trips
When you go shopping or dine out with your kids, you can also teach them money management and have them put their new math skills to work. Show them how to compare prices and calculate savings to discover the best bargains for your family. As their skills become more advanced, you can even show them how to calculate the tip at restaurants.
7. Help Them Save for Something Big
As kids, buying something big for the first time – without Mom or Dad’s help – is a big financial milestone. It’s also a big confidence booster. If your child is a bit older, encourage them to save up for something larger, like a new bike or their first computer, by holding on to their allowance, lawn-mowing, or babysitting money. If it helps, create a chart to help them visualize their goal and track their progress.
8. Turn Screen Time Into Learning Time
When it comes to money, real-life experience is usually the best teacher. But some computer games and apps may also provide a great learning opportunity. You and your child may enjoy:
- World of Cents – Powered by the National Credit Union Administration, this fun browser game (and free app) for ages 5 and up teaches valuable money and math concepts.
- Games from the U.S. Mint – You’ll find a variety of educational online games for all ages.
- Financial literacy games in your app store – Do a quick search to find free or low-cost games, including more advanced content for teens. Be sure to check the reviews to make sure the game is right for your child.
We’re Here for Their Financial Journey
It’s never too early to start teaching your child the practical money skills that will serve them throughout their lives. Be sure to check out our blog post with valuable tips for raising a money-wise child, and give your child a great start with our one-of-a-kind Youth Banking program at American Heritage. Learn more and open your child’s first account at a local branch today.