It’s never too early to start teaching your children about money! While your toddler may not understand the ins and outs of a credit score just yet, they do understand that you go to work every day and that you buy groceries. So, why not start there?
Teaching your children about money doesn’t have to be a sit-down conversation that teaches a lesson on a money topic; instead, meet your children where they are and offer knowledge in ways that they can understand!
Consider incorporating these money conversations into your everyday life. Keep in mind that each of these can be adjusted to be age-appropriate conversations for children anywhere from 2 to 12 and 8 to 18!
3 Ways to Teach Kids About Money in Everyday Activities
1. At the grocery store
Everyone has to go to the grocery store! Whether it’s a trip you despise or one that you look forward to, consider using it as an opportunity to introduce the realities of the cost of food to your littles. Start out explaining how everything is marked at a price. Show them how each price tag represents an item and how all the items have different prices. From there you can work up to explaining deals and how some items go on sale each week. Continue by describing how different items are different sizes and how some items that have a bigger quantity may be a better deal in the long run.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to small nuggets of information that will set your children up for success in the future!
Chelsea, a Certified Financial Counselor with Spero, shared her own experience with “the grocery store game”. She said, “I remember picking up the Oreos and my dad asked me why I chose them. I told him they were the first thing I noticed. My dad then told me about the differences between the store brand and the name brand and that if we got the family-size package, we would get more Oreos for our money!”
She then described how her dad turned this price comparison shopping method into a game in which she was rewarded for saving money.
She shared, “Over time this simple money conversation turned into a game, and I was rewarded for saving money! Once a month my dad would take the money I saved and give me the opportunity to spend it at the Dollar Tree or save it. Most of the time I spent it, but to this day, I still use price comparison while grocery shopping!”
2. At the gas station
Let’s be honest, at some point we all thought our parents were crazy for complaining about gas prices because the sign said it was only $2.50! As a child, we had no idea it was priced by the gallon. (Okay, maybe that isn’t an entirely universal experience, but it is confusing.)
We all have to get gas, and if you’re a parent, it’s inevitable that your children will be along for the ride at some point. This is the perfect opportunity to share with them how gas prices work and how putting gas in the car enables you to drive to school, to basketball practice, and then back home again!
Start by explaining that the price listed on the sign is the price of a small amount of gas. (Use the word gallon if your child is old enough to understand measurements.) From there, explain that your car has to have a certain number of gallons in order to be full.
If you are comfortable (and if your child is old enough), consider letting them join you at the pump to explain the different choices you have when you go to buy gas. During this time, allow your child to watch how the pump keeps track of how many gallons you’ve pumped and how much they cost. Just remember, a licensed adult must be the one pumping the gas!
3. At the credit union
The little ones often tag along for trips to the credit union! Whether it’s an afterschool run through the drive-thru to deposit a check, or a weekend run to the ATM to withdraw some money, consider bringing your children into those transactions. Explain what financial institutions are and what they do.
Consider starting out with a simplified version of this by explaining that these places keep our money safe. We can access the money by going in, visiting the drive-thru or ATM, and through a debit card— here you could even explain how a debit card is connected to real money, not some endless supply of money to swipe!
Once you’ve brought them along on several visits, consider opening your child(ren) an account of their own! This will empower them to begin thinking about their own finances from a young age. They may want to deposit their “birthday money” and create a savings account to reach a goal for something they’ve been eyeing for a while.
The list could go on and on! While these are a few great starting points, consider bringing your child into financial matters that make sense for them. While it may not make sense to include your 5-year-old on money conversations about mortgages and retirement accounts, there are age-appropriate money conversations to be had at every age!
Always remember that we are here for you when it comes to your financial journey. Schedule a session with one of our Certified Financial Counselors today and bring along the little ones to sit in on the conversation! Also, download a free resource to play with your child that will help them gain money management practice.