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Financial Literacy for Kids: Guides, Resources and Activities for All Ages

By
Samantha Rose
Samantha Rose is a personal finance writer covering financial literacy for OppU. Her work focuses on providing hands-on resources for high school and college-age students in addition to their parents and educators.
Updated on December 20, 2021
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Our guide tells you which money concepts to teach kids and how to do it.

Jump to: Money concepts for kids     Money concepts for middle schoolers     Educational resources     Money games for kids     Hands-on money activities     Healthy money behaviors     Bottom line

The first time children will experience money is likely out in the world, which may be good or bad. Ensure it’s a good experience by teaching healthy money habits.

In this money guide for kids, we cover the following:

  • Which money concepts to teach using vetted resources
  • How to implement online and hands-on money activities
  • How to model healthy money habits

Money concepts to teach kids

  1. What’s money?

  2. Kids should know what money is and how it’s used. Many adults take this knowledge for granted—after all, they’ve been using money for a long time. But for kids, it’s a new concept. To help them understand it, answer the big questions.

    Key points
    • Money reflects how valuable something is. Money tells us how much something is worth. Things that are more valuable are worth more money. Things that are less valuable are worth less.
    • We didn’t always have money. Before money, people used to barter. They would trade items of similar value, but there were many problems with this system. Money made things easier and is now used all around the world.
    • The money we use in the U.S. is called the dollar. In the U.S., the dollar was established as the main unit of currency by Congress on April 2, 1792.
  3. Money must be earned

  4. Remember this one: “Money doesn’t grow on trees”? Well, it’s still important for kids to hear.

    It’s easy for children to imagine money as something that magically appears when they need it. Help them understand that money is something that’s earned.

    Key points
    • People earn money through work. One of the ways that people earn money is through work. They perform a service (work a job) and are compensated for it.
    • People can also earn money by selling things. Another way that people earn money is by selling things. When they sell something for more than they paid for it, they make a profit and that’s the money they’ve earned.
  5. Money is used to buy things

  6. So what do people do with the money they earn? They buy things.

    Make the connection between earning money and the benefits it provides and make it concrete. What in a child’s life can you point to? The clothes they wear, the toys they play with—all of which are purchased with money.

    Also, teach kids that things have different prices, and that some things cost more than others. For advanced learners, discuss the difference between goods and services.

    Key points
    • People use money to buy things. Money allows people to buy the things they want and need. Generally, they fall into two categories: goods and services. Goods are tangible objects such as food, clothing, toys, and electronics. Services are actions (labor) that one person does for another, such as a haircut, doctor’s appointment, and home repair.
    • In order to buy something, you have to pay the price asked by the seller. Some things cost more than others. To buy something that’s more expensive, more money is needed.
  7. There’s a difference between “needs” and “wants”

  8. Not all purchases are equal. Kids may not realize that costs like groceries and rent are prioritized over movies, games, and new electronics. The former are “needs.” The latter are “wants.”

    One good way to make this point is to take them grocery shopping and share with them your budget for the trip. All of the items that you buy for healthy meals are “need” purchases. Everything in the checkout line? Those are “wants.” Those items might be nice to have, but purchasing them should only be considered if all “need” items are bought and there’s money left to spend.

    Key points
    • “Needs” are necessities. Costs that are absolutely necessary to survive are considered needs. Although what is needed to survive means different things to different people, most basic needs are food, shelter, and transportation. This means paying for groceries, rent, and transit costs.
    • “Wants” are luxuries. While not necessary for survival, costs that are deemed “wants” make living more enjoyable. Depending upon someone’s income and lifestyle, luxury items could include expensive clothes and travel, ordering take-out, a night out with friends, or a morning coffee.
  9. Money should be spent wisely

  10. Children should learn that they are in control of their finances. They have a choice about where, when, how, and why they spend their money.

    Stores and brands carry similar items at wildly different price points. Expose your children to how greatly goods and services vary in price and how to use reasoning to decide on the best purchase. This can be done at the grocery store too. Compare a generic product to its name-brand version. What’s the difference in price? Is it worth it?

    We all have to spend money. However, our purchases—even if they’re all “need” purchases—can be a wise use of funds or wasteful.

    Key points
    • People have choices about what they buy. When it comes to buying goods and services, we decide where to spend our money. We control money—it does not control us.
    • Comparison shopping is getting the most bang for your buck. Comparison shopping is the practice of comparing prices of products and services from different sellers before buying. Researching fair prices helps us spend money wisely.
  11. Saving gives us money to spend in the future

  12. Money isn’t all about earning and spending. A crucial component is saving, or setting aside money for future expenses.

    Saving doesn’t—and shouldn’t—be presented as a chore, or something akin to eating broccoli at dinner. Rather, ask children what they might buy if they had more money. A doll? An action figure? A baseball mitt? All of these things can be purchased by saving money earned today and waiting to spend it until there’s enough for the item.

    For kids, the most important thing is to get them in the habit of saving. Once the habit is learned, they can then focus on what they’re saving for—fun things like toys or trips, but also important ones like education expenses.

    Key points
    • Save money now to spend later. Saving doesn’t mean that kids don’t get to spend the money they make. Rather, make clear that saving shouldn’t be seen as a sacrifice—it allows them to make future purchases that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford.
    • Choose a savings goal. Work with children to decide on something to save for. (For most kids, this will be something fun, like a toy.) Later on, when the time seems right, discuss their saving goals and how some might be more important than others.
    • Develop a saving strategy. Saving doesn’t come naturally for some people—and this definitely includes kids. Help them develop a strategy to reach their savings goal. Have them commit to setting aside a certain amount of money from allowance or holidays. Also, where will they store their money and how will they keep it safe? Something as simple as a designated piggy bank can do wonders.
  13. Credit and debt

  14. Credit is an important financial tool, but it also comes with the dangers of debt. The best way to avoid debt is a proactive education. Teach kids to effectively manage credit and how debt can affect a credit score.

    Key points
    • Credit. Credit can be good or bad. Credit card debt is typically bad, due to interest charged on purchases. Loan debt can be good, such as student loans allowing borrowers to finance college.
    • Debt. Debt can be caused by mismanaged credit, loans, and other forms of borrowing. It may be smarter to avoid debt because it subtracts from a borrower’s total wealth.

Money concepts to teach middle school students

  1. Spending and saving wisely

  2. For many tweens, the best part about having their own money is spending it. Whether they use it to buy a new shirt or a concert ticket, making that first purchase gives them a sense of independence.

    Adults, however, can’t just buy whatever they want. They have to cover necessities and only then can they make “want” purchases.

    Key points
    • Starting a budget. Budgeting is a core financial literacy skill for all stages of life. It’s also a skill that middle-school-age kids can immediately put into practice. Creating a budget is simple. First, have tweens write down the money they make in a given month. Then, have them decide how they plan to spend their income. This should include “want” purchases, but kids should also designate some money for saving—experts recommend 20%.
    • Saving. Middle-school-age children should learn that saving isn’t a chore. Rather, saving gives them money to make large purchases they otherwise couldn’t afford. To do this, have them write down saving goals. Consider setting aside money for a “need” such as an education fund, but also incentivize kids by letting them decide on a fun goal of their own choosing—even if it’s a “want” purchase.
  3. Money is earned through gainful employment

  4. Money is earned, and to earn money, we must work. The career that people choose greatly impacts their income potential and for that reason, it’s important to be strategic when deciding on a career. Career exploration is important for kids because it will give them knowledge and information about career options and will encourage them to set career and educational goals.

    Encourage middle schoolers to explore career options by taking quizzes, identifying interests, and engaging in mentorship programs. This will help them narrow down their options and prepare them for high school and beyond.

    Key points
    • Education. The level of education that people obtain impacts their potential earnings. This is also true of experience and training.
    • Career vs. job. A career is done over a long period of time and often requires a high level of training, experience, and education. A job, on the other hand, is usually short-term and requires less experience.
  5. Making thoughtful and sound financial decisions

  6. Decision-making is an important life skill, and when it comes to money, there’s a lot more on the line. This is why it’s important to make thoughtful and sound personal finance decisions.

    Middle-school-age children should start with two financial decision-making concepts: comparison shopping and opportunity cost.

    Key points
    • Comparison shopping. Comparison shopping is an essential personal finance skill and one that has application for middle-school-age children. Teach kids to research products before making a purchase.

    Look for products that offer comparable value at a lower cost. Communicate that smart shopping can reduce costs just like limiting purchases can.

    • Opportunity cost. Opportunity cost is the concept that money used for one purchase comes at the expense of making other purchases. Use a concrete example to explain it.

    For instance, if your tween spends his or her entire allowance on a new shirt, there will be no money left for other purchases. Is the shirt worth it, or should the money be used for something else?

  7. Insurance protects us from financial loss

  8. While middle-school-age children are not responsible for securing their own insurance, it’s important that they understand its value and the potential consequences of not managing risk. Insurance costs money, but it protects people from losses that are much greater.

    Key points
    • Types of insurance. There is insurance for almost every kind of risk. The type of insurance that people require depends on their needs.
  9. Effective ways to use credit and manage debt

  10. While tweens won’t be able to buy anything with credit, it’s important for them to have an understanding—before they reach adulthood—of what credit is and how it’s used.

    Key points
    • Loans vs. credit cards. Consumers can borrow money by using a credit card or taking out a loan. When deciding which to use, borrowers should consider what they are purchasing, the interest rate, and the length of time they’ll have to pay it off.
    • Interest. Interest is the cost of borrowing money. Interest will make the purchase more expensive than if the purchase had been made without borrowing money to do it.
    • Risks of credit. Like most things, buying on credit comes with some risk. The greatest risk is missing a payment, and even just one missed payment can impact a borrower’s creditworthiness and increase the cost of credit in the future. Missing several payments can result in repossession or foreclosure.

Educational resources to teach money concepts to kids

Use these six trustworthy educational resources to teach money concepts to kids. The engaging lesson plans and materials are available for free online. And don’t forget to check out our in-house OppU money courses.

InCharge

InCharge provides 14 financial lesson plans and worksheets. That’s enough material for a course in personal finance. The site provides supplementary materials, like a guide and presentations.

Money As You Grow

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) enforces the fair treatment of citizens by banks, lenders, and other financial companies. The CFPB also created an online money platform for kids. “Your child’s money milestones” allows guardians to monitor their child’s progress in reaching money milestones.

Money Smart for Young People

The FDIC’s Money Smart for Young People series provides four curriculum programs. The online programs are free and divided by age-appropriate materials.

MyMoney.gov

MyMoney is a website created by the Federal Financial Literacy and Education Commission. It covers five core money concepts through resource lists, lesson plans, and games.

NFEC

The NFEC provides a curriculum designed for older children. The program is rigorous and engaging, including accessible lesson plans and in-depth presentations.

TheMint.org

The Mint provides tools to teach kids about money. The site has separate lessons for kids and teens. It includes calculators, quizzes, and fun challenges.

Money games for kids

Reinforce money concepts by implementing activities, whether through online games or in-person experiences. Lemonade stands are old news. Level up with these fresh ideas to keep kids engaged.

Digital money games

Apps and games are a convenient and accessible way to teach kids about money. Download an age-appropriate game to get started.

Bankaroo

This app’s creator came up with the idea for Bankaroo at age 11 to help children learn how to manage their savings. Bankaroo is a virtual bank for kids where you can teach them about money and its value in an age-appropriate environment. The app supports different currencies and can be played anywhere.

Bite Club

Consider this: Immortality might not bite if you have a chance to pay down debt and build wealth…forever. Bite Club teaches students that financial choices have an impact on their future. Players will manage resources for 15 rounds (the game equivalent of 45 years) and plan for retirement while living within their means.

Financial Football

Calling all sports enthusiasts, Visa created an NFL-themed mobile game that also teaches about money. The game is fast-paced and interactive. Educators can assign the game to students and then track their progress through email results.

Gen i Revolution

Gen i Revolution is a mission-based online game in which middle or high school students can save people in financial trouble. Students need to log on, create an account, pick their operative, and then start exploring the game universe and working to complete each of the 16 missions. The game also allows students to compete against others, making it great for a friendly competition.

Plan’it Prom

Visa created this free app to help teens and their parents budget for prom and prom-related expenses. Plan’it Prom is essentially a budgeting app that includes a countdown to the big day. Students can learn to cut costs and achieve their short- or long-term budget goals by planning for a real event.

Renegade Buggies

Designed by the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL), Renegade Buggies is a dynamic, fast-paced endless runner game. The game focuses on saving money while virtually grocery shopping. The goal is to save as much money as possible. Most notably, the app won a REVERE award, which honors “high quality resources that educate learners of all ages, in all media, and in all educational environments.”

Savings Spree

Children ages 7 and up can learn some serious money lessons with Savings Spree, while younger children can play with some assistance.
One of the highest-rated apps, Savings Spree has won a Parents’ Choice Gold Award and a Children’s Technology Review Editor’s Choice Award. It’s an engaging, fun and educational app presented in game show format. During play, kids learn that the choices they make every day can add up to significant savings or earnings.

The Stock Market Game™

SIFMA Foundation’s Stock Market Game™ is an online simulation that allows students to make investment decisions in a global capital market. The Stock Market Game™ has different versions for grades 4 through 12. Once a classroom has signed up, each student will be able to access their personal portfolio on the accompanying mobile app.

Hands-on money activities

Encourage your kids to try a fun hands-on money activity. No computer needed. And even better, the entire family can participate.

Savers challenge

Jessica Wertheim, the chief learning officer at Dearest, suggests creating an at-home shopping experience. To do this, she said, begin by providing an allowance for kids to manage. Let them know that for completing chores or housework they will earn a certain amount of money each week. Once kids have a little bit of pocket money, set up a store at home with prices that reflect what children will encounter once they begin shopping in the real world.

“Openly and honestly discuss how it feels to save money with your child,” Wertheim says. “Is it difficult for them? Is it easy? Why do they think it might be important to not spend everything they earn?”

Take a family outing

One simple way to make kids comfortable with money is to get them to use it — put it in their hands and let them pay for purchases. You may have to limit their choices, but allowing them to make some purchasing decisions can be a good start.

Build a company — not a lemonade stand

Personal finance advisor Matt Ruttenberg advocates learning by doing. As such, he prefers to teach his oldest daughter about money through entrepreneurship.

“Entrepreneurship is on the rise, and you can literally build a business around any passion now,” he says.

That’s why instead of a lemonade stand or bake sale, he’s helping his daughter build a company that sells something different: fairy gardens.

“These days, it’s extremely easy to build these kinds of ventures through various online companies, such as Shopify,” he says. “We are letting her choose her niche, create ways to market her newfound business to her friends, and learn how to manage her own money. All while enjoying the summer months with her friends.”

Hold a play auction

One idea from photographer and entrepreneur Kevin Vandivier is to harness the high-energy, fast-paced experience of an auction.

While raising three kids, Vandivier and his wife soon discovered that they were missing opportunities to teach their children about the value of money.

Getting creative, Vandivier designed his family’s own play money called “Vandivier Bucks” in 5-, 10-, and 20-dollar denominations.

Vandivier and his wife would shop at the toy store and buy items on sale. They then placed the toys “in a prominent place for the kids to drool over throughout the week,” he says.

The kids would receive Vandivier Bucks in exchange for completing chores and earning good grades. Bad behavior or low grades were met with hefty fines. And then came the fun part: the auction. Kids would either bid on an item or pay the pre-labeled buy-it-now price that Vandivier set.

“Through this, we had a lot of fun, plus the kids learned to save, bid, haggle, count the cost, loan money, borrow money, and give,” he says.

Create a stock contest

A little competition is a great boredom buster, so keep the games going with a summer stock-picking contest courtesy of financial planner J. J. Wenrich.

To play his game, kids pick one or two stocks and invest with play money. (They might enjoy choosing stock in kid-familiar companies such as Walt Disney, Netflix, or Hasbro.) Kids can then monitor their gains, and at the end of the summer, whoever holds the best performing stock wins an appropriate prize — a trophy, prize money, or the promise of buying a share in the winning stock.

This activity gives parents the “chance to talk about the basics of money and ‘what stocks are,’” Wenrich says. It also provides kids hands-on experience managing a portfolio—all without putting real money at risk.

Design a children’s book

Alfred E. Blake, the assistant director of entrepreneurship programs at Rutgers, designed a children’s book with his daughter Skylar.

“We decided to create a children’s book when my daughter Skylar had a ton of questions regarding how her life would change as she became a big sister,” Blake says.

When they wrote the book, Skylar took the lead as project manager. She chose which pictures to include and gave input about the way the book read. With the final product in hand, Blake will use the book to teach her how to run a business — including the cost of production and how to make a profit.

Model healthy money behaviors

Modeling money habits is one of the best ways to teach kids about money. Kids learn from our words and our behaviors. But walking the walk is tough. Here’s how to do it the right way, according to the experts.

  1. Discuss Money

  2. Kevin Heaton, CFO at i3 Family Office Services

    The most important habit to model is to discuss money. Talk about it, read about it, ask questions, discuss it. I would much prefer my 9-year-old make mistakes with her money now rather than at 29 or 39, and so we discuss it.

    All of our children are bombarded with a view of hyper-reality, hyper-consumerism through social media: Instagram would have you believe that a $60,000 Birkin bag is an acceptably normal purchase, and afterward should be worn while posed on a waterfall in some exotic location, yacht framed in background. That is manufactured reality, and counter-productive if the growth of existing wealth is the goal.

    Heaton recommends focusing on three main topics:

    Work for Money

    Work for Money is the start: Children who work for their money either through household duties, school achievement or other earned reward/recognition experiences typically value the reward. More important, it is less about the amount and more about the transaction itself, and the opportunity to discuss money in a coached, supportive environment. Start as early as possible: a child at 5 can help with small tasks for a piggy bank reward. Once a child has money, they must next understand that even if they can’t see the money it does exist. Last, they can only spend the same dollar once.

    How Money Works

    How Money Works: Earning money is not enough; the child should next understand that income and expenses are a part of having money. How much will you earn, what will you spend the money on by choice, are there set expenses you have to spend the money on to live comfortably? This is the opportunity to explain budgeting, taxes, utilities and other expenses, and plan for small ‘want-to-have’ and large ‘want-to-have’ purchases. It’s also a great time to introduce setting aside amounts for education, sport activities, or charitable gifts for the future. There will also come a time to discuss setting aside a fixed amount for investment.

    Make Money Work for You

    Make Money Work for You: Many families cover the first two points well, but never discuss borrowing and lending, stocks, investments, and asset management. They will discuss saving, but saving is not investing. To start to teach your child about investing, create a graph—for the refrigerator or in an app or spreadsheet depending upon the child’s age—and have your child pick one thing they love that has a public company association: a toy, a movie, shoes, an amusement park, a food. Then start to graph the price together—if you bought one share for $8 this day, it would be worth + or – XX this day. Begin to discuss what a share of stock is, why some are more expensive than others, how you can earn or lose money, and how one buys a share of stock. After a period of time, you may wish to pick a specific stock or fund or other investment of which the child has a keen interest to make a small investment.

    All of this is important, but as with most things, effective communication—discussion about money matters—is the start.

    Lucy Harris, CEO of Hello Baby Bump

    When it comes to money habits and children, I believe that it is incredibly important to start early. Laying down the foundation for good money habits is essential. However, having said that, it is super important to allow your children to learn through mistakes as well.

    My children get pocket money for completing chores and getting good grades. They have to put money into three different piggy banks. One is for saving, one is for spending and one is for emergencies. Getting your children into the habit of dividing up their ‘earnings’ into these three categories is teaching them early about sensible spending and habits such as always having an emergency fund.

    When it comes to my children spending money, we try to talk them through their purchases. We ask them questions such as:
    Do you want it or need it?

    • Do you want it or need it?
    • Is it going to serve a purpose?
    • Is it going to be useful?
    • Why do you want/need it?
    • Is it worth the price tag?

    Questions such as this get the children into a habit of analyzing their purchases to ensure that they don’t waste their money.

    Of course like any child, they are going to have impulse buys. We allow the kids to make their own decisions when it comes to the impulses. Then, when they don’t have enough money for something they need or really want due to them spending their money on the impulse buy, they learn and teach themselves a lesson.

    Watch your own spending habits and if your children are old enough, talk to them about the basics of the family money habits. Children learn a lot from their parents and they pick up the things you do. If you have poor spending habits yourself and your children see you, they are more than likely going to pick it up as well.

  3. Set a Budget

  4. Alexandra Fung, CEO of Upparent

    As a mom of three kids (ages 12, 10 and 2) and co-founder of parenting website Upparent.com, I have had ample opportunity and reason to consider how to best model and support good money habits to my children—and am always looking to learn more! Some tips that have worked well for our family include:

    • Don’t be afraid to talk with your children about your household budget, and how you decide where and how to allocate resources based on your family’s finances and values. For example, if we are considering whether or not to enroll one of our older kids in an extracurricular activity, we are open with them about how it would fit into our monthly budget, and how it compares to other monthly expenses, so they begin to understand the process we undergo to decide whether any particular expense is worthwhile for our family.
    • Discuss and agree on budget limits for certain expenses, such as gifts, to teach an appreciation for thoughtful and deliberate buying habits.
    • Set personal limits on fun or extra expenses (such as fancy coffee!), to make it clear that even small purchases add up, and need to be accounted for in a budget.
    • Create a shopping list before heading to the store (or online), to avoid unnecessary impulse purchases.
    Paul Moyer, founder of Saving Freak

    Budgeting is the most important tool we try to teach our kids. All of their money goes into a jar marked work. Before they can spend that money it gets split into three different jars marked give, save, and spend. 10% of everything they work for goes into give, 20%into savings, and they are allowed to spend the rest as they please.

    Our oldest is 10 and it is so ingrained in him now that he rushes to move money from the work jar to the other jars just so he can know how much he has to spend. He’s also pleased that his savings are getting bigger so that he can buy a car once he turns 16.

  5. Earn Money

  6. Monica Lam, blogger at Lucky Mojito

    Let kids earn their money. Our kids do not get allowances. They know that money has a value and if you do something like chores or other forms of work, you earn money. This teaches kids that time has value and should be spent wisely. By saving money or investing it, you are giving yourself the freedom to do more things.

    Use a save, spend, donate money jar to teach money basics. Just because your kids are young, it doesn’t mean they can’t grasp money concepts. To make it easier to visualize we have three money jars. When our daughter, who is 5, earns some money helping around the house, we let her put her money into the jars she wants. She can either save her money for the future, spend it on something now, or donate it. She loves animals so she has chosen to donate money to the ASPCA.

    Deborah L. Meyer, owner of WorthyNest

    Don’t spoil. Even if you have the financial resources available, resist the urge to say yes to every request. Before you know it, your teen will be a young adult. Relying on your economic handouts will hurt, rather than help him later in life. Engage in an honest conversation with your teen about wants versus needs.

    Have your teen get some financial skin in the game. If your daughter insists on purchasing something she does not need, decide on a dollar amount or percentage that she must contribute from her own funds.

    Encourage part-time employment. It is rare for your child to become an olympian or professional athlete. Extra-curricular activities are great for fostering teamwork and self-confidence, but they do not pay the bills as an adult. In fact, select sports teams and one-on-one lessons are costly. It is quite possible for your teen to work part-time and participate in one extra-curricular activity per quarter. Part-time employment fosters responsibility, and earnings can be saved or applied to living expenses such as gas, entertainment, and meals out with friends.

  7. Save Money

  8. Caroline Vencil, founder at Caroline Vencil

    I think the most important skill parents can share with their kids is showing them that saving comes before spending. It’s easy to see parents spending money as kids, but to have a conversation about savings and how important it is is even more important. Growing up, I remember going with my parents to open my first bank account at 8 years old. The idea of making constant deposits and watching that money grow was exciting to me. I’m very thankful that I was taught about savings early on in my life.

    Deborah L. Meyer, owner of WorthyNest

    Match it. If you have the financial means, offer to match your child’s savings in a Roth IRA. The beauty of a Roth IRA is that you never have to withdraw from it during your lifetime. Earnings grow tax-free and are great savings vehicles for young people.

  9. Compare Prices

  10. Monica Lam, blogger at Lucky Mojito

    It’s important to teach your kids that you don’t need to buy everything new or at new prices. Our kids have more toys and clothes than they need because we’ve scored great deals at thrift stores, second hand shops, and at retail stores. Our kids have learned it’s important to compare prices and by doing so they can either save more money or get more things because they are at cheaper prices.

  11. Negotiate

  12. Monica Lam, blogger at Lucky Mojito

    My kids are ages 2 and 5. My husband and I speak about finances in front of them all the time because we want them to feel comfortable with money and have a better understanding as they get older.

    We teach our kids the importance of negotiating. To do this we go with them to garage sales and flea markets. They see us both buy and sell items. Negotiation is a skill that can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars. This applies when buying a car or house, choosing banks based on fees and interest rates, and even hiring contractors.

  13. Practice Patience

  14. Kath Gilbert, blogger at The Life Spotters

    My top tip is to write down potential purchases in a wishlist on your phone (or notebook if you prefer) and also to allow a measured cooling off period. My son, in particular, is very impulsive and switches between hobbies and passions faster than I can get my purse out—we saw he was making a habit of wasting his money on things that he quickly lost interest in. I started modelling patience by choosing not to purchase something until I’d given myself time to think about it, and making a note of the item I’d seen to refer back to later. I created a list for myself and one for each child.

    Now if anybody sees something they want we make a note of it and allow at least 2 weeks to see if it’s still the ‘must have thing’ we originally deemed it to be. (So far so good—yesterday my son went through his list and crossed off nearly everything on it!)

  15. Live Frugally

  16. Jonathan Huang, aka Mr. Centsible

    As a brand new father, I get to contemplate all the time on how I’m going to raise financially savvy kids. I think the overarching concept that I go back to is that, as parents, it’s important to lead by example. If you live a life of luxury, say having house cleaners come biweekly, or eat out a couple of times a week, or buy things in the store without hesitation…these are all things kids will pick up on and think are normal. This could teach bad financial habits by thinking these actions don’t have consequences if they are not discussed beforehand.

    To me, this means that parents may need to consider sacrificing their lifestyle a little bit in order to not instill a sense of luxury or entitlement in their kids. This means that even if the parents have the financial means to live a certain lifestyle, it may be beneficial for their kids to not live that lifestyle. If kids live their childhood without realizing the value of money, they could be in for a rude awakening when they graduate into young adults.

Bottom line

Teaching kids about money should be fun — and it can be. Follow our comprehensive money guide on what to teach and how to get started.

Article contributors
Alfred Blake

Alfred Blake currently serves as assistant director of entrepreneurship programs at Rutgers Business School. He is the author of “The Students Handbook To Breaking All The Rules” and an intrapreneurship speaker. Blake also created a platform for millennials that allows them to take ownership of their responsibilities and impact their lives. Get in touch with him on LinkedIn.

Alexandra Fung

Alexandra Fung is the co-founder and CEO of Upparent.com, a website that makes it easy for parents to discover and share recommendations with one another about local things to do, places to go, and products to try as a family. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame and NYU School of Law, she served as an advocate for children and families in the nonprofit sector for many years before helping to launch Upparent. 

Kath Gilbert

Kath Gilbert is a writer, mother, and debt survivor. She blogs about life-design, money, and adventure at The Life Spotters.

Lucy Harris

Lucy Harris is a mother and the CEO of Hello Baby Bump.

Jonathan Huang

Jonathan Huang is the founder of Mr. Centsible It’s a blog dedicated to helping millennials understand personal finance and reach financial freedom.

Monica Lam

Monica Lam is a personal finance blogger at Lucky Mojito. She and her family paid off over $33,000 in credit card debt and built a net worth of 6 figures and growing. She shares her best money-making and saving tips so others can do the same.

Deborah L. Meyer

Deborah L. Meyer, CPA/PFS and CFP®, is a fee-only financial planner and author of “Redefining Family Wealth: A Parent’s Guide to Purposeful Living.” Deborah is the owner of WorthyNest®, an independent advisory firm dedicated to helping parents build wealth. She is Saint Louis University’s School of Business 2019 Distinguished Young Alumni and a recipient of the 2018 AICPA Standing Ovation Award for Personal Financial Planning. 

Paul Moyer

Paul Moyer is the owner and founder of Saving Freak. He has been writing and teaching others about personal finance since 2007.

Matt Ruttenberg

Matt Ruttenberg is co-creator of The Money Twins and a third-generation financial expert. He and his brother teach young families how to become financially independent, by building SOLID Wealth.

Kevin Vandivier

Kevin Vandivier shot his first assignment for National Geographic Society while he was in his third year at The University of Texas studying photojournalism. Upon graduation, he landed his first job at The Dallas Times Herald. Missing the freedom of freelance photography, Vandivier left the Herald, shooting for National Geographic Society and many others. He also began hanging his Fine Art Collections in several Galleries, including his own The V Gallery. These days Vandivier has added leading photographers on workshop adventures through National Photographic Adventures.

Caroline Vencil

Caroline Vencil is a money-saving expert, especially when it comes to her family of six living on one low income. She is a master of living on a tight budget and still having a full life. Her passion is to teach other women how to make their money work for them and to take charge of their own financial lives.

J. J. Wenrich

J. J. Wenrich is a certified financial planner and 20-year veteran of the investment world. He developed his fascination with the stock market as a child, watching business reports on PBS. His education continued at The University of Kansas, reigniting his love of the market. Since then, he has built a career in financial planning and investments. Along the way, he met his wife Jodie—also a financial professional at the time—and together they built a family “portfolio” including four children. It’s that family unit that is the basis of J. J.’s lessons, educating kids about healthy financial habits and Teaching Kids to Buy Stocks.

Jessica Wertheim

Jessica Wertheim is the chief learning officer at Dearest and an adjunct professor at New York University. Before working at Dearest, Wertheim worked for the New York City Department of Education’s Division of Early Childhood on the Pre-K for All Initiative. Previously, she taught middle school math and science in Northern California.

Russell Rivera

Russell Rivera, CFA, CFP, is the Founder and President of Voice Wealth Management (Voice). He also likes to think of himself as a Personal CFO and Financial “Therapist” for entrepreneurs, young professionals, and their families. He helps clients make prudent financial decisions regarding spending, saving, investing, and planning while giving a voice to the individual client’s financial priorities and experiences. He can be found on Facebook at @voicewealth.

Rivera graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelors of Arts in Economics in 2000. He started his career as an AMEX floor specialist and trader for Goldman Sachs from 2000-2007. Prior to founding Voice in 2013, he worked with APB Financial Group as Head Trader and Market Strategist where he first defined his portfolio philosophy. He was granted his CFA®

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