Creative Ways to Teach Kids About Saving Money
There’s nothing like the childhood satisfaction of counting the hard-earned cash from your piggy bank. I can still faintly hear the sound of coins jingling inside my little porcelain pig. I was young and surely didn’t fully grasp the value of a dollar, but my first introduction to money management taught me that if I worked hard doing chores around the house, I would ultimately be rewarded.
November is Financial Literacy Month and this year, Education Savings Week runs from November 20-26. It’s designed to start a national conversation about education savings and how families can better plan for a child’s future. In the interest of saving and teaching our kids how to save, here are six ways to help turn them into Money Masters.
- Create a ‘$avings’ jar
Instead of using an antiquated and opaque piggy bank – which can leave kids guessing how much change has actually accumulated – opt for a transparent money saver, so your child can really reap the benefits of saving. Some experts recommend the jar system: one for saving, one for spending and a third for sharing. This way, children are taught how to spend, invest and give to charity. You can either purchase a labeled three tier jar or choose the DIY method: grab your label maker and three glass or plastic jars and voila!
A child’s interest may also peak if you personalize jars, like making them princess or superhero themed. Check out this superhero bank how-to here.
- Save the old fashioned way
It’s a fact – pennies are on their way to extinction, and Canadian one- and two-dollar bills haven’t been on production lines in more than 20 years. But that doesn’t mean every household should be loyal to credit and debit cards. There’s likely spare change lying around your home. For starters, I’d check the centre console in your car or the kitchen junk drawer, or if you’re like me, the bottom of my purse, where random goldfish crackers and the odd stick of gum also live.
You can make it fun by introducing the old fashioned coin rolling system to your kids, stuffing all that spare change into the cardboard sleeves, which, when filled to the brim, show you exactly how much money they hold.
- Family game night
Introduce new family traditions like Friday game night. Kids young and old will not only unearth their competitive streak, they’ll likely learn a lesson or two when it comes to finances. Here are a few board games experts say can help teach them about basic financial math skills:
- Payday (ages 8 +)
- Monopoly (ages 8 +)
- The Game of Life (ages 8 +)
- The Allowance Game (ages 5-11)
For younger children, parents can opt for a game of money flashcards or grocery store – where your little one plays cashier.
If you choose to tap into the digital world of finance, there are many apps like PiggyBot, and FamZoo. Both are geared towards helping your kids understand the importance of saving and budgeting, especially when it comes to post-secondary education, which can easily creep into six-digit territory!
- Paper or plastic?
We live in a cashless society filled with credit cards, tap technology and
(wait for it…) there’s an app for that! It seems the vast majority of Canadians, especially Millennials, don’t keep much cash on hand. Full disclosure: at any given time, I have one, maybe two dollars worth of change in my purse (note my earlier reference of my mixture of change and goldfish crackers.) We may be living in the 21st century, but that doesn’t mean we should forget cash is still valuable. Instead of the virtual bank of mom and dad, your children will quickly learn through tangible payment how money works and why having a plastic card doesn’t mean there’s a limitless supply of money in the bank.
- Make lemonade
For tweens and teens, babysitting, dog-walking or shoveling an elderly neighbour’s driveway may be a better fit. Encourage your children to take the initiative and in doing so, make a little bit of money. Helping your kids set up a lemonade stand or organize a garage sale will allow them to understand that hard work pays off. Some experts recommend going one step further. If you help build the lemonade stand – setting it up, providing plastic cups, etc. – you too should be paid for your efforts (albeit we’re talking small potatoes here.) That way, they learn about why you too should be rewarded for your contribution.
- Lead by example
Young children tend to look up to their parents for everything, so why not set a good example that will help position them for their financial future. If you’d like your child to have their own savings jar, start a spare change jar of your own so they can watch your earnings grow alongside their own.
For anyone raising children, it’s pretty evident post-secondary education costs a pretty penny. According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Statistics Canada, it’s expected that the cost of a four-year undergraduate degree from a Canadian university could be $152,000 by 2035! I’m still searching for my money tree but so far, I haven’t seen any seedlings in my backyard. Consider having an
age-appropriate talk with your children about spending versus saving. You may be surprised by how seemingly insignificant day-to-day gestures will help shape them into smart spenders, even if university seems light years away.
Teaching your kids to be Money Masters isn’t something that can done overnight; it requires patience and dedication (from both parent and child), as well as careful planning. That said, make sure you have some fun with it, too!