When it comes to teaching children about money, most parents feel inadequate. It’s hard to feel qualified when you’re not doing great with your own money 1.
Good news! You’re more than capable of teaching your kids about money.
Think about how you would teach anything else outside of your expertise. You’re going to find books and videos. You’ll find an online course. You’ll make it happen. And personal finance is no different.
Let’s look at some ways you can help your kids right now.
1. Use Online Resources
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. If you’re not good at something, you find someone who is. This isn’t new to you, but when our own insecurities come out, we often feel like there is nothing we can do to help our children with money.
Go through the process. If you’re not good with money, admit it. Accept it. Then change it. But don’t wait until you have an MBA in Economics to teach your children. Let them learn with you (we’ll talk about this in more depth shortly).
Some great resources include:
- Biz Kids – A great place with videos, lesson plans and games to teach kids about money.
- Citigroup Financial Education Curriculum for Kids – Finance lessons for young children, grades K-5.
- Citigroup Financial Education Curriculum for Teens – Finance lessons for teens.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – A resource to help you, the parent, teach your children about finances.
- Financial Entertainment – Free online finance games for children.
- Our Finance Course – 🙂
With technology, we have so many resources. Let’s take advantage of them.
2. Find Teachable Moments
Life is full of teachable moments. All of life is a learning experience.
Use that to your advantage as a parent, and teach your kids through life.
Any time the opportunity presents itself to show your child how you did something smart with money, or made a financial mistake, use it to teach. If you’re not sure what to do in a situation, refer to #1 above; pull out your phone and do a quick search to understand what you need to do. Seriously, Google it. No shame!
Here are a few good places to find teachable moments:
- At the Bank – Show your kids how different accounts work. Explain the process of taking money out of the bank and depositing money. Just make sure they understand that it’s all your money, and the bank isn’t a magic money machine.
- At the Store – What better place to teach the basic concepts of budgeting than the store? Let your kids see how you keep a list and stick to it, and how that keeps you within your budget. (Note: If this doesn’t sound like you, maybe it’s time for a change?)
- At Expensive Places – Amusements parks, heavy tourist destinations, and carnivals all have one thing in common: they’re stupid expensive for no reason. Show your kids how these aren’t the best places to put your money, unless you don’t want to have money.
You can always be thinking about how you can teach from each moment in life. Since your kids will see what you do before they’ll hear what you say, make sure you’re sticking to good financial principles.
Remember: more is caught than taught.
3. Learn Together (And Use the Google)
Don’t pretend that you’re rich in front of your kids. If you have struggled with your finances, explain that to your kids. Show them how you want them to have a better start than you did.
Once you get that out of the way, start learning together.
The reason I start the Freedom Sprout finance course with a lesson for parents is to give you a head start, but one quick intro to finances won’t show you everything there is to learn.
As you use your resources and teach your children about money, you’ll be right there with them learning the stuff. Make it fun.
All you have to do is take the time to look up the answer every time your kid has a money question. Trust me, with as many money questions as they’ll have, it won’t be long before you become a finance expert.
4. Money Toys
There are all kinds of toys you can use to teach your kids about money.
Here are a few of them:
- Checkbook – Teach your kids money management skills, how to balance a checkbook, and the basics of budgeting in general.
- Cash Register – Let your kids open their own business in your home, and teach them how to run the cash register. Even a simple skill like correctly counting change back is rarely seen in today’s world.
- Piggy Bank – If you have younger kids in the home, this is a great tool to teach them values and numbers.
Kids love toys and kids love learning about money. It’s a great combination.
You can use plenty of other basic toys to teach finance concepts. Letting your kid run their own business with their toys is a great way to get in some words about finance and business management in a fun way.
5. Money Games
Other than the hands-on toys, there are plenty of games designed to teach your kids about money.
Some are blatant about teaching finance skills, while others are more subtle.
When kids are younger, they prefer to play, so the subtle games work well. When they get older, they typically prefer to learn (at least when it comes to money), so it’s easy to say something like “let’s play this fun game as a family so you guys can be millionaires one day.” That’s an easy way to create a family game night, and what kid can pass that offer up?
Turn to these games for those occasions:
- Cashflow for Kids – My kids love this game, and you can find it pretty cheap if you buy used (we paid $2 at a flea market). It teaches the idea to acquire assets over liabilities, and it’s easy to understand. Most kids 4 and up can understand this one.
- CashCrunch Junior – This game teaches positive money habits. Recommended for children 5-12 years old, and it’s around $30.
- CashCrunch 101 – This game continues on where CashCrunch Junior leaves off, and it’s free to play online for now. Recommended for children 13 and up.
- PayDay – This is a basic and simple game, but it teaches children about having money while also paying bills. It’s affordable as well (around $10).
- Money Bags Coin Value Game – Kids collect, count, and change money all the way through the game. A great skill to have! And it’s less than $20.
- Monopoly – Heard of it? If your kids are younger, Monopoly Junior is great as well, and there are so many varieties of Monopoly now that I can’t list them all. Learning the basic concepts of only being able to buy the properties you can afford, and having life situations set you back are invaluable. You can get any classic game like this for cheap at resale stores.
- Game of Life – Another classic. This game really opens the door of conversation about life, careers, buying homes, bills and adulting in general.
Those are just a few of the games out there to help teach your kids about money. You have so many resources at your fingertips. Use them!
When you add all five of these methods together, your kids won’t be able to not succeed financially.
Further Book Reading
- Teach Your Child to Fish by Holly D. Reid
- Make Your Kid a Money Genius by Beth Kobliner
- Money Monster or Money Master? by Norma LaFonte
- Moneybags: A Guide to Teach Your Kids About Money by Wendy Gillespie
Over to You
- Do you feel qualified to teach your kids about money?
- Do you use any tools or games to teach your kids about money?
- What are some mistakes you’ve made that your kids can learn from?
- Harris Interactive Inc. (2012). 2012 Consumer Financial Literary Survey