That’s how many Americans did not get any financial education during their K-12 or even college years.
That means, a kid’s best shot at learning any financial skills before adulthood are gonna come from mom and dad.
Read on to find out how to teach kids about money so they’ll have the skills to live their best life even after they’ve left home.
In this post, you will find:
- Ideas to teach money management for kids
- When to start to teach kids how to save responsibly
- Two free piggy bank printable templates
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When should I start teaching my kids about money?
Short answer: way earlier than you think.
Kids are crazy smart and are capable of starting to understand simple money concepts even before they hit preschool.
Young kids learn very quickly that you need money to pay for things.
Your goal should be to start teaching them as soon as their mental concepts of money are forming, not waiting until they’re teenagers when their perceptions are already partly engrained.
How to teach your child the value of money
Be open and honest
If you think about it, the main way that parents teach their kids about anything is by sharing about their experiences.
This way, their kids can learn about things they can do to bring about good outcomes, and actions to avoid that had negative consequences.
But in our culture, money is seen as a taboo subject that people are uncomfortable talking about, so many kids grow up and leave home without learning from their parents’ experiences.
Know what that means?
They’ll probably make all the same mistakes you did, which you might have been able to spare them of if you’d just been willing to talk.
Think about what you wish you had known or money things that you wish you had done differently, then make the effort to impart those lessons onto your kiddos.
Have them help you with your money management tasks
Money is not something you deal with once and then set aside for long periods of time, so why teach it that way?
Having your kids involved as much as possible while you regularly take care of your bills and manage your finances shows your child that money management is a lifelong series of habits and decisions.
Depending on your kid’s age, you can have them do things of varying complexity. Here are some suitable money management tasks that kids can help with:
- Open mail
- Write checks
- Stamp and address bill payments that are sent by mail
- Balance checkbooks
- Track spending and compare it to a budget
- Review statements for errors or behavior patterns
As you do these things, explain what you are doing and double check if they remember stuff the next time you get around to the same task.
Set a good example
There is no greater parenting tool than leading by example. Any parent knows that kids do as you do, not as you say.
Kids will parrot what you do, good or bad, so be a good role model and make choices that you’d want them to make too.
Use free online lesson plans
If you’re worried about your ability to teach, there are free lesson plans online that you can download, which give you step-by-step instructions on how to provide your kids a full curriculum of finance-related lessons.
Our option is the free Financial Fitness for Life lesson plans put out by the Council for Economic Education.
These money lessons for kids are conveniently broken down by age group, and by teaching your child one or two lessons every weekend, you can give them hours of financial education over the course of their K-12 years.
Choose matching over giving
Simply giving kids money to do something can backfire in that it might only teach them to not do something at all unless there’s money in it for them.
The more important lesson to teach is that some choices have a more powerful impact than others, and using matching is a better way of demonstrating this.
For example, you could offer to match however much your child agrees to save in a long term account where the money can’t be touched for at least a year.
Make money lessons as tangible and concrete as possible
In this day and age, money is mostly digital, but being able to see and feel the consequences of your decisions will go a much longer way when it comes to learning good behaviors and modify undesirable ones.
When thinking about effective ways on how to teach kids to save money, it’s best to use cash or some other type of physical representation.
That way, they actually see the gain or growth, or feel the tangible loss of something being reduced.
Things you can use include:
- Clear jars with cash or tokens (rather than opaque piggy banks)
Incorporate games and challenges
All kids, and even some adults, just want to play all the time. Appeal to that drive to seek out fun, and incorporate games and money-based challenges that the whole family can participate in.
Some ideas include:
- Having your young child look for the cheapest priced item in a section of the store
- Tasking a slightly older child the responsibility of planning a family night within a certain budget
- Giving older kids a crack at managing the family budget (tell them your income, ask how they’d budget, and discuss their choices and expenses they’ve missed)
Encourage your teen to get a part-time job
Like with any other skill, practice makes perfect.
Making money gives your teen a chance to practice making decisions about it, plus it gives them the ability to save and invest in large enough amounts that they can really see the growth.
Free piggy bank printables
We’ve got two printables you can use in a bullet journal, as planner stickers, or as coloring pages to help keep you on track with your money goals. They’re cute enough for kids and adults to use as a visual savings tracker.
The first, which looks like a printable piggy bank pattern, is perfect for 30-day money challenges.
The second has exactly 31 coins falling into the piggy bank, which are good for a monthly savings challenge in months like January or July.
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Teaching your kids how to manage money is one of the most valuable skills you can impart on them. Prepare your kids for the real world by showing them how to save, budget, and invest.
Our post with tips for teaching kids about money will give you smart strategies for giving your kids the money skills they need to make it in life.