Teach Kids About Money ... at Any Age!

Teach Kids About Money ... at Any Age!

Five easy steps to teach kids of all ages how to earn, save, and value money.

By: Lorraine Allen

Spending wisely and saving consistently can help make family finances more manageable. And teaching kids about money -- where it comes from, what it’s really for, and how much things cost -- will help them gain financial independence, which is a great gift for the whole family. So here are five ways you can start teaching kids of any age about money:

1. For toddlers and preschoolers: Use fake money -- toy cash registers are great too -- to play store, bakery, or ice cream parlor with preschoolers, showing them what money is for and how everything comes with a cost. Teach them that you cannot always buy everything you want because you have to spend within your means.

2. For 5-to-8-year olds: Show kids what real money is, using coins of every value and some bills, and incorporate this into their days in fun but realistic ways. For example, when it’s time for dessert, have kids “pay” you for it, by telling them the cost, and having them add real money from your coin jar (like in a real restaurant or bakery). If kids are shopping with you, point out the cost of things you’re buying to teach them the real value of food, clothing, toys, etc.

3. For 9-to-15-year-olds: Let your kids earn money for chores. Teach them about saving, too, by opening them a bank account. Show them some real bills, like electric, oil, or gas, so they learn about hidden costs of living, and explain the different ways we pay for things: with checkbooks, with cash, with ATM or credit cards, or by electronic money transfers. Teach them to help your family save more, too, by turning off lights to help lower bills, repurposing things, and selling old toys. This may also a good time for kids to foray into earning their own money in small ways. Babysitting, dog walking, tutoring, and lawn mowing are great places to start.

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4. For 16-to-18-year-olds: As kids reach their upper teens, they may be ready to get real jobs – in food service or retail. Help them take these first steps toward financial independence, and guide them through their first few job searches so they know how to answer interview questions. Make sure they earn a fair wage in a safe, engaging environment. Show them how to open their own checking account and deposit paychecks, how to use an ATM machine and card, how to write checks and balance a check book, and to keep a record of their earnings, saving, and spending, Encourage them always to spend wisely, save consistently, and to set a financial goal to reach. This could be a dollar amount they come up with or the actual cost of something special they want to buy.


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5. For college kids: In addition to supporting their real job searches, help them feel confident and prepared to land the jobs they really want, so they don’t end up doing something that makes them miserable. Help them shop for professional clothes or lend them yours. And teach them to live within their means by explaining the pitfalls of going into debt and using or relying on credit or credit cards. Make sure, too, that they know how to read bills, and to set up a system to pay them on time, consistently, to avoid late fees and penalties.

How do you teach your kids about money?

Lorraine Allen is a writer, and mom and personal chef to one spunky 6-year-old girl with severe food allergies. You can enjoy their delicious recipes and follow their amusing family cooking adventures at Feeding Lina.

Image ©iStock.com/Professor25

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