Teaching kids about money should start as early as possible. Responsible money management is a vital skill they will need throughout their lives. However, the subject isn’t always the most entertaining, especially for younger children. Many find it dull or have difficulty understanding the concepts.

Fortunately, there are many fun and engaging ways to educate your child about money. All it takes is a little time and some creativity.

1. Play Games

Think back to your childhood and the board games that helped you understand how money works. Games like Monopoly and LIFE introduce young people to budgeting, saving, and investing through an enjoyable and tangible experience. Today, game makers offer “Junior” versions of board games, allowing even younger children to partake in the fun.

But, it’s not just board games that deliver beneficial money management skills. Even online games like Minecraft or Animal Crossing have kids earning and spending virtual money. Others like ABC Mouse can introduce your child to age-appropriate money concepts. Any opportunity to educate your child about money through fun and engaging games is a win.

2. Role Play

As a parent of a young child, you’ll likely spend a lot of time in their play kitchen or store. Use these moments to introduce the concept of money.

Create a menu with your child and assign real-life prices. Then, give your child play money to use. They can practice counting coins and giving change as you order food. After a while, reverse the roles. Allow your child to be the customer and use their money to buy different items.

3. Visit the Grocery Store

As kids get older, the grocery store is a great place for teaching kids about money. Before you visit the store, make a list of the items you plan to buy and set a budget. Then, work with your child to find everything on the list. Show them how to compare prices and find the best deals. Finally, have them list all the costs of items that you place in the cart. They can keep a running total to ensure you don’t exceed your budget.

Show them why they can’t throw everything in the cart that they want. It will cause you to overspend.

Bonus Lesson: Teach them about unit pricing! That little number in the corner is a way to compare similar products to determine which is the best deal. For example, if one can of a tomato sauce is $2.69 for 19 oz, and another is $1.99 for 10.5 ounces, the unit pricing basically evens the playing field and tells you what each item costs per ounce. Instead of using the retail price, use unit pricing to determine the better deal. In this case, the 19 oz can costs less per ounce. If it fits into your budget, buying the more expensive item may save you money in the long run.

4. Set up a Lemonade Stand

A lemonade stand is a classic way for kids to learn about money. Set up a lemonade stand with your child and put them in charge of pricing and selling drinks. If you have multiple children or friends who want to join in, even better! Working as a group is an excellent way to build problem-solving skills as they provide change to customers and fulfill their orders.

Kids get experience counting money, giving change, and managing costs. Plus, they’ll earn money they can add to their savings jar.

5. Collect Bottles and Cans

Teaching kids the value of working towards a goal is invaluable. It shows them that everything isn’t immediate. Sometimes, you need to wait and work for something bigger. Have them set a savings goal of a certain dollar amount. Then, put them in charge of collecting your bottles and cans if you live in a state that pays you for returnables. They could even ask family members to save too. Once you have a few bags, take them to the bottle return center together. They will see the value of little things adding up to something bigger. A lot of 5-cent or 10-cent returns can add up!

6. Create a Savings Jar

Savings jars and piggy banks are popular among kids because younger children tend to be visual learners. First, find a jar or container that your child could use. Then, allow them to decorate it. You want it to be something special to them. Lastly, find a place to store it where they can see it often.

Every time they receive money from their allowance or as gifts, have them put a portion into their savings jar. As the jar fills up, discuss their progress, and begin to set savings goals with them. You can even print a savings tracker so everyone can see their progress!

7. Have Them Earn Cash

Cash makes you think about what you’re spending. Plastic does not. Having kids pay for things with cash makes them more aware of what things cost. Swiping your card for them doesn’t make the impact that handing over $20 from their own wallet does. Providing your child with opportunities to earn cash weekly or monthly with chores or odd jobs gives them the opportunity to value money. First, it gives them access to cash to buy the things they want. Second, it instills a work ethic, teaching the importance of working hard to earn rewards.

As a parent, you love your child and want the best for them. So, giving in and buying them things is easy when they ask. However, teaching them the importance of earning and saving money is a crucial skill that will significantly impact their future.

8. Open an Account at the Credit Union

Once your child begins to understand the basic concepts of money, open an account for them at the credit union. It’s a fun experience that introduces them to another side of money management. Most kids feel proud knowing they have an official account, just like their parents! Teaching kids about money can be a group effort – let us help!

We’re Here to Help with Teaching Kids About Money!

Teaching kids about money isn’t difficult, you just have to try to squeeze it in when you can. Look for creative ways to introduce them to these concepts. Then, challenge them to achieve financial goals, such as saving for a specific toy. The lessons you teach today will have a tremendous impact down the road.

If you’re interested in opening a youth account for your child, call, text, chat, or stop in! We always enjoy welcoming young members to the credit union. We’re here to help, M-F, 9am-4pm ET. (315) 671-4000.

Each individual’s financial situation is unique and readers are encouraged to contact the Credit Union when seeking financial advice on the products and services discussed. This article is for educational purposes only; the authors assume no legal responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the contents.