Ways to Teach Young Children About Money
Money Lessons for Kids: How to Start at a Young Age
I was very little when I started clipping coupons. Strangely enough, my bargain shopper Mom didn’t even clip them, but I was a little 8-year-old, finding deals. Now that I have my own children, couponing is a way of life in our household. My three girls (5-year-old twins and a 2-year-old) know all about coupons and being thrifty. I feel it’s important for them to understand the importance of saving money and I even allow them to help me with the grocery shopping (to some extent!). It hasn’t been a very conscious effort to show them how we save, it all happened organically. Here are a few fun ways your children can learn the value of a dollar.
Allow them to help you with the grocery list
When we get the Sunday paper, I go through all of the ads and coupons. My girls like to look through the grocery flyer to see what’s on sale. I have a fun craft project that has helped us immensely on grocery shopping trips: have your kids make their own shopping list! This quick and easy craft project can be recreated over and over.
What you need:
Old grocery store ads
Kid-friendly scissors (or you can cut out the pictures beforehand)
Have each child write their name on the top of the construction paper and give them items to put on their “list”. They can look through the flyers and cut out the food item. After gluing everything on their list, the clipboard can come to the store each trip! It keeps the kids busy and it’s a little scavenger hunt for them. Also, it helps with recognition of fruits and veggies!
Teach them the importance of healthy food and the cost of unhealthy food
My children love to pick out snacks. Instead of saying “no, that’s unhealthy”, I show them why I’m not choosing an item. We also have implemented a “sometimes food” phrase instead of saying “not healthy”. I feel if you try to eliminate sweets completely, kids will want them more. When you say “that cookie is a ‘sometimes food’, maybe next time” it helps!
When picking out something like juice or fruit snacks, allow them to pick between two different low sugar options that are on sale. I have found that this really helps with my kids asking for things in the store. Also, we like to pick out a weekly new fruit or veggie. It creates excitement for healthy food. Obviously you can’t stop every 5 seconds to let them choose…grocery shopping would take forever! But a few choices can help!
Also, consider a visual lesson. Show how one box of cookies is the same cost as 10 bananas! Since we make “ice cream” with bananas, my girls want more of them.
Show how coupons save money
My daughter Olivia likes to ask immediately before we put something in the cart, “Do we have a coupon for that?” She knows that coupons save money and that they are important. While kids don’t need to understand exactly what a budget is, they do need to know that saving money is fun and important.
When browsing the flyers, my kids know that if strawberries are on sale that will be our berry for the week instead of other options. If peppers are cheaper than green beans, we will get those. If they see their favorite granola bars are on sale AND we have a coupon, they know they will get to pick out more flavors.
Once your children are older, they will understand more about the value of the actual coupon. I like to keep things in terms of quarters or dollars since my girls are still young. I will say, “This coupon is $0.75, the same as 3 quarters!” To them, that is a lot of money! Consider using the money saved for something bigger, such as a special trip. We have started saving for a Disney trip in a few years and every little bit counts!
Think about a small allowance
In our household, even though the kids are little, we all chip in to help. The twins help with the dishes and putting their dirty clothes in a basket. To us, that is all just things they do to help out. For extra things that go above and beyond, we’ve created an allowance-like incentive. If Maddie helps me sweep the floor, she can get a quarter. This helps them realize the value of a dollar. If they want fun new markers, they ask how much it is. I show them how to compare that to what they have saved and they learn if they can afford it or not. We round most things to the nearest dollar, such as “These markers are $2 and you have $5…do you think you have enough money?” From this, your child can see that they have enough money and also how much they have left. A great math lesson!
Money lessons can start young and it’s an ongoing process! When a child learns about prices and saving money, I believe they gain an appreciation for what they have.
What strategies have you used with your children?