One of the things that surprised me most about parenting is how many life skills need to be taught directly. Of course, we teach our children to use the bathroom independently and tie their shoes, but we also teach them how to resolve conflicts and help in the kitchen. One of the most important jobs of parenting (in my opinion) is teaching kids about money. I reached out to my friend Heather Farris from The Balanced Mamas to share her best tips with us!
Money is a tough subject to talk about in some family homes. In fact I came from a home where money wasn’t plentiful. My parents worked hard but they weren’t the best at teaching the kids about money.
I’ve grown up thinking I had to hang on to everything I earn and work myself to death to get it.
That’s not what I wanted for my children. I wanted to teach my children about money in a way that would provide a healthy foundation while still instilling the importance of it.
Money is simply a tool in our household. Teaching kids about money is an important lesson and as parents we get to choose how to do it.
FOUNDATIONS OF TEACHING KIDS ABOUT MONEY
Teaching kids about money can start at a young age. You can start with projects, looking at coins and talking about what they are. Point out the differences in them and have your toddler repeat it back to you. Make it fun and they will play along.
When my first daughter was 2 I went out and bought a piggy bank that she could play with. She was obsessed with our coins and I didn’t want to make it something she couldn’t have because that leads to power struggles.
So I bought the piggy bank, filled it with coins and showed her how to take the bottom off of it. For weeks she would fill it up, take the bottom out and let all of the coins fall all over her legs.
Then she got to the point of understanding that when I give people those coins they would give me something in return.
At around 4 she started paying close attention when we would go grocery shopping.
Click here to learn more ways to make math FUN at home!
Learning Activities for Preschoolers
Empty the piggy bank and set a savings goal for the family. Choose what you will spend it on together and get started. Everyone can add to it and you can count how much is in the bank as you add to it. Keep a running tally and let them help with the counting.
Once you reach your goal then head out to spend your money on your prize.
By doing this you’re teaching them the value of money. They will have a certain amount to spend and once it’s gone it’s gone.
Take Them Shopping
One of my favorite activities when I was shopping with my daughter was to take her grocery shopping. I know I’m a little nutty but we made it a thing and she was well behaved.
So as we made our way through the store I would hand her items to hold and feel. I would tell her the item name, color and price. Eventually, she got to where she knew the prices and what was what as I placed it in the cart.
Have Them Pay
Your kids will undoubtedly get cash for their birthdays or other holidays. This is a good time to teach them that what they are asking for costs money. So have them pay for their toys or ice cream.
Teach Them About Work
This could be simply having them do a chore around the house. Kids are funny in they are always wanting to buy something. Instead of telling them no and ending the conversation tell them they have to pay for it once they have earned enough.
Teaching Them Wants Vs Needs
This can be a difficult topic for preschoolers to understand because they are just learning the concept of buying things that could be considered a want.
For the school-aged kids though this is a great lesson.
Start at the store when you’re out grocery shopping. As you place things in your cart explain to them why you’re buying it.
While mom’s special chocolate that she doesn’t have to share could be considered a need you can take the opportunity to explain why you want it.
Have them help you as you go through the store distinguish what is a want and a need.
Don’t Tell Fibs About Money
Kids respect honesty as much as adults do. If they are at the store and ask for something you don’t want to buy them don’t just simply tell them no because you can’t afford it. Explain to them that you have a budget for toys and it’s not in the budget right now.
They will move on quicker with this tactic than if you simply say no.
Talking to your kids about budgeting will bring awareness that money doesn’t just come and go freely.
Teaching kids about money can be fun if we as parents make it fun for them.
Treat these conversations about money as a teachable moment. Their little brains are soaking up so much knowledge everyday. If you take the time to start them young with healthy money conversations then you will give them that solid foundation they need.
How are you teaching your kids about money?
Heather is an entrepreneur, blogger, and mom of two. She and her husband live in the Midwest where he is stationed in the Air Force. On her blog, TheBalancedMamas.com, Heather helps other moms build a balanced home and enjoy more quality time with their families by building systems and routines. She does this by providing practical solutions that moms can implement quickly so they can get back to spending quality time with their family.