Teaching kids to save money doesn’t have to be a chore.
Financial literacy for kids can be a great way for you and your children to start having more honest conversations about money. And it can help prepare them to notice (and hopefully avoid) some more common traps that ensnare unsuspecting victims. But often we aren’t sure how to talk to kids about money in an educational or productive way. Money management for kids may seem like it’ll end up putting more stress about our situations on them. So how do you go about teaching kids to save money? And how do you get them thinking not just about money now, but money in the future? Future-money, if you will…
The Wyshbox Blog
- Financial education for kids
- Personal finance for kids
Financial education for kids
Children develop in stages, and each stage of development requires specific needs and experiences met. So you wouldn’t start talking to your four-year-old about the intricacies of banking and credit ‘cause they’re just too darn cool to keep up with nerd stuff like that. Also they’re four.
So we’ve collected some activities that parents can do with their kids to start having (and continue having) honest discussions about money to make sure that your kids’ financial literacy is on point and ready for the real world. This isn’t an exhaustive list, so we recommend parents figure out what would work best for their kids and learning strengths.
Some money activities and topics for kids & teens
Financial literacy for preschoolers
Parents, we know that preschool kids are whirlwinds of energy. At around the ages of two to four, kids are walking, talking and are very physically active. They need both guided and unguided activity time.
And it’s never too early to start getting them to learn about money. So you can engage your rugrat with activities that stimulate their imagination and learning. Activities can be as simple as listing items that require money or tossing coins into a cup and counting them afterwards.
Financial literacy for elementary students
As your kids get older, they begin to value things like their friendships and become more involved in activities like sports. Their development needs revolve around tasks, hobbies, and other skill-oriented activities.
When it comes to money, parents may start offering allowances for completed tasks. You can have further discussions with your kids about the costs of things, like grocery store items and clothes. You can also have discussions about how to save money, which can build skills to view money responsibly.
Financial literacy for middle schoolers
Around the time they’re in middle school, kids begin to develop some worldsense, start to understand ideas of power, and want to make and contribute their own money. Activities for middle school kids can include things like understanding the power of advertising and the purpose of banks as institutions.
Talk with your kids about different types of advertising and how they tell if a product or service can be trusted. For banks, you can possibly discuss the role banks play in the world and other avenues to explore, such as saving and investing their allowances.
Financial literacy for high school students
In high school, your kids have developmental needs such as more sleep and big appetites, while having increased abstract and hypothetical thinking skills. Teens still need, and appreciate, guidance and conversation with their parents (even if it doesn't always feel like that).
Currently, 24 states offer personal finance classes to high school students, which is great. But parents can still engage their kids actively. Whether or not your kid is starting their first job, you can have conversations with them about things they’d like to start thinking about buying, such as cars, more expensive clothes, or experiences. You can have more intentional conversations about concepts they’ll experience in the adult world, such as credit, debt, and investments.
Take debt for instance. In the second half of 2022, household debt reached $16.15 trillion! It’s likely that your teen kids will come across some type of debt once they reach college-age. So have conversations about the power of a credit card vs a debit card, student loan debt, and predatory lending practices that trap the unexpected.
Personal finance for kids
Conversations about money with your kids should be built around empowering them to feel comfortable, even when in stressful situations. Having knowledge can allow mistakes but can also help build personal autonomy.
It’s also important to remember that, during these conversations about money, it’s important to discuss what can be done, rather than what you or the family cannot do. Kids appreciate honesty, but they have to be presented in age-appropriate conversations. So talk with your kids and be there for them.