How taking a simple approach has made money lessons fun for my children (and myself).
A couple weeks ago I noticed my daughter, who is 6, was fascinated with the concept of money. As we strolled the aisles of the store rather than my usual scenario of physically blocking random toys or snacks from landing in my cart, I was answering her one question: “How much does this cost.” Granted she asked the same question for almost everything I touched. It didn’t matter if I said $1 dollar or $20, her response to everything was “wow that’s expensive.” Her curiosity with money made me realize that this was the right moment to start teaching her about money.
While my daughter’s curiosity was new and exciting I started to research ways to teach her about money and saving. I wanted to teach her that materialism isn’t all that it is cracked up to be. I wanted her to know that she doesn’t want friends who only talk about their possessions and who may judge others who don’t have as much. My thoughts went onto all the major details about money that plagues society today when it comes to consumerism and debt. All this overthinking about how to approach my teaching strategy ultimately got me nowhere fast.
The Lesson Learned: Start Simple
So, there I was, armed with tons of information but having no idea what would be an appropriate lesson for someone her age. Then randomly one day my son, who is 4, was playing with his toy cash register. My daughter ran over and started charging her brother for toys and even though he was handing over multiple 20-dollar pretend bills, they were having fun trying to figure out how much change they needed. The right lesson was right in front of me all along.
We started a money game that we play when dinner is ready. My husband will charge a fee for their food and the kids help each other come up with the correct amount, while I pitch in and remind them what a quarter, a dime, a penny, and a nickel are worth. We don’t make it easy for them; for example, milk will cost a bit different every time, $6.34 today and $8.10 tomorrow. It is making the money learning process fun and stress free. When my kids earn a few real dollars for their allowance and want to spend it right away, rather than a lecture on saving, they quickly learn that if they wait a few weeks, they can have that $20 dlls toy rather than fishing out of the dollar bins at Target.
When teaching your young children about money, don’t get too lost in your own thoughts and theories about it. Start with money basics, adjust the program, be creative and have fun with it!
Your kids will enjoy the ride and learn some valuable lessons.