How to Talk to Your Kids About Money (Grades K-8)
Helping young people develop a savings habit early in life will help them with financial decisions early on and prevent many money management mistakes that can lead to economic hardships and personal struggles.
When to Get Started with Money Talk
How old should your children be to start learning financial literacy? If they are old enough to ask for a toy, they are old enough to start learning about financial literacy and responsibility. Starting early creates strong building blocks for kids and incorporates a continued conversation about money that will help them understand how your particular household economy affects your decisions, both large and small.
Make It Fun and Engaging
Start the learning process by explaining what money is and how it is used. Be creative and diverse by using games, books, and your own experiences to reinforce the learning process.
Playing games about counting and money management is an excellent way to introduce the topic of money while keeping it fun and interactive. Keep the kids busy and away from the TV by providing alternative games that allow them to explore various concepts of money management.
Here are some games (online and offline) that you can start with to get started with integrating the concept of money management with your kids.
- Peter Pig’s Money Counter: An online (app) interactive game that lets kids practice identifying, counting, and saving money while learning fun facts about U.S. currency.
- Kids’ Finance Word Search: Play a money-themed word search game and build your kids financial vocabulary.
- Rich Kid Smart Kid: Financial Lessons with fun video game characters.
- Financial Football: This fast-paced, interactive game engages students who are football fans while teaching them personal finance skills.
- Sand Dollar City: You create a character and enter into a virtual reality to learn about managing expenses, bank accounts, credit cards, and saving money by making decisions and experiencing the consequences of those decisions.
- Monopoly: Suited for ages eight and older, Monopoly with one of the world’s most well-known board games allow players to buy property, mortgage it, collect rent, and erect buildings while trying to avoid being thrown in jail and running out of money.
- The Game of Life: Suited for ages nine and older, you win the game by accumulating the largest net worth while choosing paths that simulate real-life choices, such as family size and career.
- Payday: Suited for ages eight and older, players learn how to budget and manage your money on a monthly basis.
Stories are one of the most effective ways to acquire and retain information, and kids love a good story! Here are some stories to share with your kids, as well as some books parents can use to help teach their children about money.
- Money A to Z by Scott Alan Turner (Ages 4-8): The ultimate book to help your children learn their ABC’s and simple lessons about money!
- The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money by Stan Berenstain (Ages 5-9): Mama and Papa are worried that Brother and Sister seem to think money grows on trees. To make money of their own, the cubs decide to start their very own businesses, from a lemonade stand to a pet-walking service.
- Curious George Saves His Pennies by A. Rey (Ages 5-7): Learn to count and save money with Curious George in this storybook with a pop-out coin bank!
- The Art of Allowance by John Lanza (Ages 3-8): You’ll learn how to assign chores and invest and open savings accounts, to help you and your child navigate the ins and outs of fiscal responsibility.
- Rock, Brock, and the Savings Shock by Sheila Bair (Ages 4-8): This story teaches the concept of delayed gratification, money growth, and how you have multiple options when it comes to spending your money.
- If You Made a Million by David M. Schwartz (Ages 4-8): Have you ever wanted to make a million dollars? Marvelosissimo the Mathematical Magician is ready, willing, and able to explain the nuts and bolts — as well as the mystery and wonder — of earning money, investing it, accruing dividends and interest, and watching savings grow.
- Isabel’s Car Wash by Sheila Bair and Judy Stead (Ages 4-8): Kids can learn basic business concepts. If you start your own business, you have expenses to pay. It’s like running a lemonade stand.
- The Penny Pot by Stuart J. Murphy and Lynne Cravath (Ages 6-10): A children’s storybook and a math schoolbook in one. Your kids will love the story, and we bet they’ll be interested to learn about all of the money in the book.
- Finance 101 for Kids: Money Lessons Children Cannot Afford to Miss by Walter Andal (Ages 8-12): Andal explains the fundamentals of personal finance from investing to credit card debt, and even the importance of giving to charity. Andal also provides answers to questions parents may have a hard time explaining, like, What is the stock market?
- How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000: Earn! Save! Invest! by James McKenna, Jeannine Glista, and Matt Fontaine (Ages 10-14): A thorough introduction to finance from the people behind BizKid$, includes chapters on setting financial goals, making a budget, getting a job, starting a business, and investing smartly – and how to think like a millionaire.
- Make Your Kid a Money Genius (Even If You’re Not) by Beth Kobliner (Ages 3-23): A jargon-free, step-by-step guide to help parents of all income levels teach their kids—from ages three to twenty-three—about money.
- Show Me The Money by Alvin Hall (Ages 8-12): Hall shares his no-nonsense approach to money matters, including how the financial, business, and economic sectors of our society work.
- Growing Money: A Complete Investing Guide for Kids by Gail Karlitz and Debbie Honig (Ages 8-12): This book breaks down the basics of bonds, stocks, mutual funds, and more so that middle-grade readers can grasp the principles of investing.
- Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World: How One Family Learned That Saying No Can Lead to Life’s Biggest Yes by Kristen Welch: This book shows you how to use life as a teacher to raise children who are grateful for what they have by using everyday conversations to guide your children into understanding gratitude.
Use Everyday Experiences
Use everyday experiences to continue the learning process. This becomes much more interactive and interesting for the children as they see money decisions in real life and more frequently.
- Payday: Explain how you use your paycheck to budget for housing, food, clothing, etc., and how a portion is saved for future expenses like college and retirement.
- At the Market: Provide clear examples of “needs” versus “wants” using different grocery items, like milk is a need for strong bones, but soft drinks are a want. Also explain the benefits of comparison shopping and using coupons.
- At the Bank: Bring your kids to the bank and show them how transactions work, even at the ATM.
- Chores and Allowances: Assign chores and give them a monetary value.
- Paying Bills: Explain the ways you can pay bills (phone, paper, electronic and online) and be sure to emphasize any late penalties that may apply.
- Planning a Vacation: Have your kids participate in planning a family trip, whether it is a local outing to the amusement park or a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Show them how to budget and search for cost-saving options for travel, housing, food and entertainment.
Give Your Kids Control
Give your kids the opportunity to make and manage their own money by implementing these three simple action items.
- Assign chores and allowances. Children will learn the value of the dollar by earning it.
- Open a savings account. Kids will have fun with the account opening and transaction process and watching their money grow over time. HOMEBANK has a savings account option for minors that can be opened with as little as $10.
- Create savings, spending, and sharing practices. Have them create a money management strategy that takes a percentage of their earned allowance for savings, spending and sharing (charities) that will further instill a sense of economic responsibility.