How to Make Financial Literacy Fun for Children of Any Age
Financial literacy is an important life skill, but it can be difficult to teach as it is not a fun skill to learn. Helping children gain financial independence is a long road that starts at a young age. We have compiled a list of ways to teach children of any age about finances. By working to provide fun, teachable moments, you can make this important skill become second nature to your children.
Set up a play store
A good way to introduce younger children to the concept of money and budgeting is by playing store. Set up a pretend grocery or toy store and give your child a set amount of “money”. Give each item in the store and let your child go shopping. Help them go through the store and pick out items that stay within their budget.
Introducing the skill of budgeting to children when there are no consequences to messing up will help them as they grow older.
Grade School Age
Pay an allowance for chores
As your child grows older, they will need to be introduced to the concepts of earning their money and the value of money. To do this, make a list of household chores and identify how much money your child will earn for doing each chore. For example, mopping the house may earn them $1, while pulling weeds may earn them $2. When your child wants to buy something, remind them of the chores they had to do to earn their money, and if the item is worth the work they put into it. This will help teach them that money is earned, and that their money is valuable because they had to put in work to earn it.
Set up a saving goal chart
If your child is saving up for an expensive item, set up a saving goal chart to help keep them encouraged. Every time they put money towards their goal, have them fill in the amount of money they saved so that they can see how close they are getting. Being able to plainly see how close they are getting to their goal helps keep children motivated to follow through.
Set up a saving challenge
Even if your child isn’t saving towards anything in particular, it is important to teach them about setting aside money for a rainy day. To encourage this in younger children, set up saving challenges for them. Challenge them to save a certain amount of money by the end of the month. If they reach or surpass the goal, they win a prize; if they don’t, they miss out on the prize. This will teach them the concept of building an emergency fund so that they will be ready to build one when they are older.
Set up budget jars
Set up different jars (such as save, spend, and toy fund) for your child to split their money into. This is basically a simplified version of the envelope budgeting system that many adults use. Having your child choose where they want to put their money will teach them the concept of budgeting. If they are saving up for a specific toy, you can encourage them to put more of their money into the toy fund; if they are working on a saving challenge, you might remind them that they should focus on putting more of their money into the saving jar. They will be able to get a clear visual on how budgeting works.
Match their savings
To encourage your teens to save more, set them up with their own savings account at a bank and let them know that you will match up to a certain percent of what they put in there. As they get older, drop off the amount that you match them so that eventually, you aren’t matching anything, and they are saving like it’s second nature.
Have them help with taxes
Most young adults’ number one complaint about finances is that they never learned how to do their taxes. Set your teen up for success by getting them involved in filing the household taxes. Teach them about marginal tax brackets, the different tax breaks that the household receives, and how to file taxes. Once they have to start filing taxes of their own, they won’t feel so overwhelmed and lost.
Encourage them to apply for scholarships
Student loan debt is no joke. To help your teen avoid as much student loan debt as possible, encourage them to apply for any and every scholarship that they qualify for. There are multiple databases that help students find scholarships to apply for, and most high school guidance offices will have resources available as well.
Financial literacy is a lifelong skill that will serve your child well throughout their life. You can begin teaching them at any stage to get these good financial habits engrained in them. Use these tips to set your child on a path to success in their finances.