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4 Easy Ways To Teach Your Kids To Be Smart With Money This Summer (And Always!)

Sophia Surrett  |  August 6, 2021

Did you have to take on the role “teacher” this past quarantined year? How about this summer you start with a new subject — money.

Roughly 93% of households with school-age children were involved with some form of distance learning in 2020. This meant that parents all over the country stepped into teacher mode. Even if it was the last thing we wanted to do, we did it anyway because our kids are our world, and we wanted them to have the best possible experience during what was a very rough time for all of us. And even though now many of us probably wish we could cast our educator hats to the side, don’t lose your adopted teacher skills just yet — it’s time to share the gift of financial learning. 

While your child’s eyes might completely glaze over if you talk to them about saving for retirement or the finer points of your monthly budget, there are ways to get them engaged. Here’s a rundown on some of the the daily opportunities you might have to engage your little one on money matters. 

Lemonade Stand Staple

Do you remember when you were a kid selling the horrifying half-powdered-lemonade-mix, half-sink-water + way too much sugar combination on the side of your neighborhood’s street? Although it’s not the most enticing beverage for adults, you’re pretty much guaranteed that your neighbors are going to buy it anyway, and it’s a great resource to teach your kids about money, sales, and customer service. Lemonade not your kid’s thing? No worries, the concept of setting up a little stand will work for all other “handmade” products such as friendship bracelets, knitted potholders, cookies, and so much more. The little conversations you and your child will have about money will be so helpful for them in the long run. You’ll get to educate them on the cost of supplies, how to value their time, and then impart the basic lessons on spending, saving, and donating to charity. Everybody wins… except maybe the people who have to drink that lemonade. 

Making Allowances 

Do you give your kids an allowance? Roughly two-thirds of parents give their children an allowance, according to The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Allowances have long been seen as the most effective, long-term way to educate your kids about money, with an eye towards readying them for making smart money decisions in the future. No matter how you put an allowance into practice, the benefits are vast. Author of “The Art of Allowance,” John Lanza, says this routing will help kids understand the value of money and how to use it, save it, and share it. 

Not sure where to get started? Even just a few dollars a month is a good starting place. Create “spend,” “save,” and “give” jars with your child, then print pictures of things she’s saving for to keep her focused on her goals. It’s simple activities like this that can go a long way toward making your child more comfortable with handling their finances in the future.

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted… Was Souvenirs 

Snagging cool souvenirs on trips is honestly one of the things that many kids most look forward to when they think about a family journey… They may even start begging for things before they arrive at their destination. To make your children truly evaluate whether they want that sparkly keychain with their name on it, give them a set budget to work with before you leave the house. Not only does this benefit your child, with all the addition and subtraction they’ll be need to do to stay within budget, but it helps keep your family budget intact. For example, a trip to Disney World will be chock- full of colorful toys and accessories, but in a single day you could blow $200 within the blink of an eye if you and your child don’t go in with set spending guardrails. With a budget in place, you’ll limit their continuous requests, and inspire them to be more money smart and conscious of how they’re spending. 

Small Lessons In Daily Life 

Routine daily errands can be made into some pretty substantial learning lessons. Even on a basic run to the grocery store, you can engage your child in a discussion about the best value product or brand, and let your child make choices based on costs, wants, and needs. Kids learn best when they are doing, and practice makes perfect, says Dean Brauer, co-founder and President at gohenry, kids’ debit card and app for parents and kids. 

When your child gets a little older, the life lessons they’ll learn when babysitting, washing cars, and holding down part-time jobs, will also offer important money lessons. It’s your job to step in and go back to those jars they first had when they were given an allowance — “spend,” “save,” and “give.” 


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