Do you want your child to learn responsible personal finance habits? Get ready to throw on your teaching hat.
According to the JumpStart Coalition for Financial Literacy, only a handful of states require at least a one-semester class in personal finance before high school graduation. That means that if you want your child to grow up knowing how to budget, save and invest their money responsibly, you’re going to have to teach them yourself.
There are plenty of tools out there to use as teaching aids, but they’re certainly not one-size-fits-all. We’ve selected tools for children at a range of ages – preschool, elementary school, middle school and high school – to teach them about responsible spending and saving habits.
It’s never too soon to start teaching kids about responsible personal finance practices. Sesame Street Workshop’s For Me, For You, For Later: First Steps to Spending, Sharing and Saving is a great resource for the little ones. The free kit comes with a parent and caregiver guide, a children’s activity book, three jar labels and a Sesame Street DVD. There’s also a free Achieve It With Sesame Street app available to reinforce the concepts covered in the physical toolkit.
Great Piggy Bank Adventure is an online board game from Disney that teaches kids about saving and investing. Kids can play either alone or with friends, navigating different levels and making financial decisions along the way. Various challenges allow players to earn money for their virtual piggy bank, which they fill in order to save for their “dream goal.”
Centsible is a board game for kids ages nine through fourteen that focuses on making thoughtful decisions about money. Kids can play individually or with a small group, using pretend debit and credit cards to buy items and track hypothetical purchases. Created by a math teacher, Centsible is intended to teach the US Treasury’s official guidelines for personal finance.
When your children hit their teenage years, they’ll be able to start earning some outside income of their own, but they’ll also be resistant to any personal finance lessons that seem too childish or elementary. The alternative is to use real life scenarios to teach them how to make responsible financial decisions.
We talked with Jim Brenner, a successful businessman and parent of a teenage boy, to see how he is teaching his son about personal finance. “Watching the behavior of my teenage son set off warning signs that he lacked an understanding for the value of items and the type of labor investment required to earn them,” he said. That’s when Brenner and his wife made the decision to get their son a debit card. “We deposited funds directly into his account every three months to cover ‘living expenses.’ He now has the responsibility of determining what is valuable to him – a very different operating mode than where he was before the debit card. Our observation after he has done this now for six months is that the casual decisions are now considered and thought through.”
For more tips and strategies on raising financially responsible children, check out “5 Ways To Teach Your Kids About Money.”