Teaching kids about saving money from a young age is extremely important in shaping how they view money and finances. Kids start building their own concepts of money and savings by the time they’re seven years old.
Even before they’re old enough to start spending their own money, use your own money management as an example for them. Involve them in explaining how you’re spending your money and why you’re doing it.
This is a great first stepping stone to start to expose your kids to saving money, but it may not be the most engaging way for them to learn. Since it’s an ongoing learning activity—explaining that you pay for rent/mortgage, gas for your car, groceries to eat, clothes to wear, etc.—it will likely be top of mind, but kids may not get the most out of it if the information isn’t presented in an interesting way.
Want to teach your kids about saving money in a more engaging way? Check out these eight fun ways to teach your kids about savings.
Make savings as clear as a jar.
Kids learn well when they can visualize concepts. Using a clear container will help them physically see their savings growing. Every time they put money in their jar, celebrate it! Tell them they’re doing a great job, and penny by penny, their savings are adding up. Don’t forget to build excitement by setting a goal for the savings or reminiscing about a time you saved for something when you were their age.
Play store to help illustrate spending and saving money.
If your child wants a new toy that they know they will be paying for themselves, use the clear container to demonstrate that spending takes away from their savings. Set up a pretend store at home and have them count out the money from their container and give it to you for a pretend toy. Then, do it in real life.
If your child has to physically take five dollars out of their jar, bring it to the store and hand it to the cashier, they will have a better understanding of the process than if you just explain it to them. After this purchase, they will see they now have less money in the jar to spend in the future.
Ask them to add it up.
When you bring your older kids shopping with you, give them a calculator so they can keep track of the costs as you shop. Tell them how much to plug into the calculator with each item you put in the cart. They most likely hadn’t noticed that when you buy them a new backpack for school, it costs you $30.
By the end of your shopping trips, they’ll start to notice that everything you buy adds up, and they’ll pick up which items are cheaper and which are more expensive.
Get the entrepreneurial juices flowing.
Brainstorm ways to save money with your kids. Ask them how they think they can continue to earn and save money and write their ideas down.
While some of their ideas may not actually be feasible, some may be ideas they can execute. If they want to start a lemonade stand, have a bake sale or use the same backpack for another year, let them. These activities and savings plans will help them further understand and see the results of their efforts.
Do a demo or two.
There are numerous demonstrations you can use to expose your kids to high-level savings concepts. For example, have your kids plant a packet of seeds. As they water the seeds, tend to and watch them grow into plants, explain to your kids that saving money is a lot like growing a plant.
Saving money takes a lot of time and effort, but if they put the work in like they did with the plants, their savings will grow.
Get the whole family involved in talking and learning about saving money by using a game to teach the kids. Many board games already exist that are relatively inexpensive to purchase, or you can get creative and create your own game. There are lots of DIY money board game ideas available online.
Teaching your kids about money should be an ongoing process, so certain games and money concepts are most appropriate for each age. For more age-specific game ideas, check out our blog post on games for teaching kids about money.
Make a budget pizza.
Have a family pizza night! And while you’re at it, use the pizza slices to explain budgeting to the kids. Each slice can represent the electric bill, the water bill, groceries, taxes, fuel expenses, etc.
This visualization is helpful for kids to understand budgeting because they can clearly see that once all the pizza slices (money) are gone, you can’t have (use) anymore until you save more.
Take them with you to the credit union.
While it may be easier to take care of all of your finances online, make an effort to plan some visits to one of our branches. It can be something as simple as depositing a birthday check or cash from grandma (grandma’s are great!) into your own savings account or setting up a kids’ savings account for your children, help bridge the gap between physical cash and money kept at a credit union with frequent visits. Take time to talk about how the physical cash gets added to the account. You can even practice adding up the amounts your child is saving in their own kids’ account with pen and paper. As your children get older, you can also give them access to specific sections in online banking so they can view their own balances and track their progress toward savings goals.
Wondering how else you can expose your kids to money concepts? Check out our blogs on how to teach your kids financial responsibility and how to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit in your kids.