There’s nothing quite like the season of Santa to draw out just how little your kids understand money. So as we jump into 2017, don’t lose sight of the importance of raising kids who are just as smart with money as you are. These five activities are sure to enrich their perspective.
On day one, save a penny. On day two, save two pennies. On day 50, save 50 pennies. Do the penny challenge with your kids for an entire year, and you will tally up many valuable lessons about time and money. Not least, they'll achieve the impressive goal of saving up nearly $700 with the accumulation of small steps and resourcefulness.
The cost of business
Through the eyes of a child, the things you buy in restaurants and stores, as well as paying for them with a swipe of a debit card seems like pure magic. Here’s an app that comes with a real-life money concept for kids. Motion Math: Pizza! is a game that walks the player through the process of setting up and operating a pizza shop. They “buy” the supplies and ingredients, set prices so they make enough to pay rent, and replenish their stock of ingredients as they fill customer orders.
Spend, save, give
Many parents love the lessons contained in this simple money management system. This is how it works: Their allowance and gifts of money are split into three pots. One-third is for spending, the second third is for saving (and eventually deposited into an account), and the third is for giving away. It’s a great way to get children to take their money smarts well beyond saving for the latest gadget, while laying the building blocks to create a household budget. Help them set targets with savings goals, and work together to choose charities and causes they’d like to give to.
Making cents of money
Despite the worksheets and lessons in math class, kids sometimes have trouble wrapping their minds around quarters, dimes, and pennies, and how these coins add up and function in the world. Explore the many games bloggers and educators have posted about online that will give your kids a solid review in counting change. Then, keep small amounts of cash in your wallet so that on the next errand day, you can turn over the small purchases to your kids.
Once your kids have a long-term savings goal, give them a chance to earn extra. Make a list of extra chores they can do in the yard and around the house to supplement their allowance. Also, it doesn’t hurt to help them tap into the entrepreneurial spirit. One easy side venture that a family can start up is selling things online through eBay or a free app such as letgo. Give them “start-up money” to shop for stock at thrift stores (look for high-quality books, albums, movies and toys), and help set prices, post descriptions, and get the merchandise to the buyer.
With the help of these lessons rooted in reality, your children will not only grow up knowing the value of a dollar, they’ll understand that it doesn’t come as easy as the swipe of a debit card.