It’s never too early to start teaching your kids about money. In fact, the earlier you start, the better! Teaching kids about budgeting and savings is a great way to help them learn important life skills. And it can also help them avoid some of the mistakes that adults often make when it comes to money.
Today, we’re going to share a free printable that will help teach your kids about budgeting and saving. We’ll also talk a little bit about why it’s important to teach your kids about money at a young age.
In this post, there is a budget worksheet for kids that is a perfect starting point for younger children. This worksheet offers many tools for teaching young kids the basics of money management and helps you, as a parent, make sure they are secure enough in their financial knowledge to eventually go out on their own and be successful without worrying about money or overspending.
Why is learning about money important at a young age?
Money is an important aspect of everyone’s life, yet it is still sometimes considered a taboo topic, even among families. Many families don’t discuss money or even money management with their children until they are deemed mature enough to understand.
This does not help instill positive money management skills for your children or help them be prepared for the real world. Money management is even more important to start at a young age because that is when you can start to make positive associations about budgeting, saving, and many other life skills that will be necessary for your kids as they get older.
Talking about money from an early age also helps foster a positive environment where your kids feel comfortable asking questions about money, and as they get older, they can continue to expand on their knowledge rather than starting with the basics at a so-called “appropriate age.” Money is essential in our society, and it should not be kept secret from our kids because, in many ways, it could be detrimental if they do not have these life skills when they move out on their own.
Things like loans and credit building will make more sense to your kids once they get older, if they are taught why learning about money is important. There are really no curriculum requirements to teach kids this information through their schools, so it is up to us as parents to prepare our children.
Is money management a life skill?
Money management is absolutely a life skill and is one that will be utilized constantly, even before your kids move out of the house. If your child receives an allowance, they are introduced to the concept of spending and saving. In their teenage years, when they want a car and have to keep up paying for gas, they will have to learn how to budget and save accordingly to be able to keep up with the uptake of responsibility that a vehicle requires.
When they get their first job, they will understand the importance of budgeting even more as they will likely have a fluctuating income. As we adults know well, money management is a part of everyday life, and learning the proper tools and ways to navigate the financial talking spaces will be priceless knowledge for your kids as they begin to grow and become more independent.
7 Ways to Teach Kids About Money
Start With the Basics at a Young Age
As I mentioned before, money can be seen as a taboo subject to present to kids at a young age, but that notion seems to do more harm than good when it comes to your children’s financial knowledge. Of course, we won’t be teaching our 5-year-old kids about day trading or investing in the stock market. We should still talk about the basic aspects of money management.
At a young age, our kids can take in a lot of information and build off of it their entire lives; even still, you should teach your children about money management in its most basic forms and build on that knowledge as they get older. Overloading your kids with a barrage of financial tips when they are young will probably not be something that benefits either of you.
However, beginning with a simple plan and talking about the aspects of saving, spending, giving, and tracking their money will be great foundational concepts for them to expand on. Teaching them about transactions and the purpose of money as an exchange for a good or service are also good concepts to introduce at a young age.
Using the budget worksheet for kids that is included with this post is a great way to turn these topics into fun game-like activities that you and your kids can do together. It includes printables of giving, saving, and spending boxes which you can use to show how money is disseminated and how they will likely use money in their lives. While some of these more abstract financial concepts may not take root just yet, laying the groundwork for it will pay off for your children in the end.
Instill a Habit of Saving
Saving is an extremely important part of adult life, but this is also one of the most useful concepts to teach your kids to ensure they understand why learning about money is important. Saving can be an easy concept to understand, but in practice, as adults, we know it can be more difficult than originally anticipated. In the world, there are many people who identify as either spenders or savers.
Many of these qualities stem from childhood, and those adults who are the best at saving money are usually the ones who were taught the importance of saving money as children. Instilling saving habits into your kids at a young age creates a mindset that they will carry well into their futures and will leave them smarter financially than they would have been, had they been used to spending constantly without the understanding of the importance of the money management that goes into that spending.
The budget worksheet for kids that is included in this post, gives another helpful savings trick for parents teaching money management to their kids. It is a savings game. It is a printable setup much like a game board where you move your piece every time you save a set amount. You can do this with your children, and after every time they save a certain amount of money, they get closer to the end of the game board.
To really get your kids into the aspect of savings, you can tell them that there will be a prize at the end of their saving game. This way, they will have a clear goal that you and your kids have decided on prior to the game. They will save more and more with the intention of getting to this goal. This is a fun and interactive way to get your kids excited about the basics of money management, while also simulating real savings goals.
As adults, we usually tend to save for big life milestones like buying houses, cars, weddings, etc. in the same way as this game, but it is obviously less fun for us. The budget worksheet for kids will help to engage your children in the world of basic financial knowledge. Once they are engaged, they will actually take in and put into practice the lessons you are teaching them, rather than sitting and listening to you lecture them about savings when they really want to go play a game.
Create Opportunities to Earn Money
You can’t really give your children the full money management experience without giving them an opportunity to earn that money. Some parents don’t agree with giving their children money but giving and earning are two completely different things. Giving your child money does not allow them to learn what goes into the actual aspect of earning that money. In their adult life, your kids will not frequently be given money to survive, so it is important to teach them the value of earning money now at a young age.
This way, they can begin to understand the overall importance and work that goes into money management and savings. Creating opportunities to earn money can be simple. You don’t have to put your child to work doing manual labor. You can just have them do chores and get paid for it! Setting up chores or even allowing which chores your child wants to do are great ways to give them opportunities to earn money. You can give them a set chore list and tell them they will earn money at the end of the list.
This gives them an incentive to do their chores, and allows them to gain practical knowledge of transactions and how earning money works. The fact that they have to complete chores to earn their money, makes them understand the effort that goes into money management and savings at a young age. Though, chore lists are not the only things you can implement if you want to give your kids an opportunity to earn money, you can also bring in things like getting good grades or even tutoring their siblings as well.
If you are incentivizing your children to get good grades, they may start to see school as an opportunity to try their best in order to earn money more regularly. This is a great way to help your children think of their education as more than just an annoyance that gets in the way of their playtime. By incentivizing good grades, you may help improve your children’s school grades, and they will start to see that the work they put into their education now is paying off in the short term, money-wise, and in the long term.
Help Kids Learn to Make Smart Spending Decisions
Teaching money management for kids can seem like a task that would be hard for them to understand, but that is exactly what we are trying to avoid. You don’t want money management or spending decisions to be something that your child can’t grasp because then these issues will get progressively worse as they get older. The goal of this post is to show you that you can teach your children about money, and you should!
This way, they can feel comfortable asking more questions and making more decisions with their money as they get older. In this way, you want to show them how to make smart decisions with their money they are earning, from chores or good grades. This way, they can understand the value and importance of budgeting and not overspending. That is, if your child wants a new toy, video game, or bicycle, you can show them how saving up for it is more beneficial than spending the money on smaller things.
If they have a larger goal that they want to get to with their savings, then you should show them that spending in between that savings goal will only push them back further from that goal. So, if they want a new video game but they also want another toy, you should have a discussion with them about which costs more and which one they would rather have.
If they don’t have enough money for both, then you should help them come up with a savings plan for the bigger ticket item and let them know if they really want that as soon as possible. Maybe they should wait on buying any other toys. This way, they can understand the concept of saving up for a big purchase and the subsequent effects of overspending if they buy other small things along the way.
Model Good Financial Behavior
Learning about money is important, and your kids usually learn a lot from you and in their daily lives. In this way, it is important for you to model good financial behavior for your children. While I don’t mean you should let them know about all of your debts, and if you miss a payment, you should be open with any questions your children may have concerning these topics. You do not want to give your children the idea that they are not well taken care of financially, but you should help teach them about financial responsibility by being a good financial role model and using good moments as teaching moments.
This means you can go through the basics of how to make a budget with them, because, as a good financial role model, you will have an excellent budget plan. If you are struggling to find successful ways to budget, then I suggest reading this post on organizing your monthly expenses. It is a great place to start if you are feeling overwhelmed in the budgeting space. You can tell them how you decide on purchases and so on. The important part of teaching your children about money is that you don’t want to teach them something that is conflicting with what they may see you do.
So, if you want to teach them about overspending, then you should show restraint when it comes to miscellaneous purchases for yourself. This way, your child will see the teachings you are giving them in practice in your daily life and likely will emulate you in that regard. Our kids are much more insightful about us than we think, and making sure we are setting ourselves up for success is just as important as doing that for them.
What money is for: needs and wants
When teaching your children about money, it is essential that they understand that money isn’t just for spending on things they want. They should also think about spending it on things that they need. While your younger children should not be buying their own clothes or food, I would suggest explaining to them the differences between the needs and wants that they will encounter in the future.
In the same way, we discussed being a good financial role model, you can also go through lists of things that you purchase and ask them to differentiate between the needs and the wants. This gives them some insight into the real-world application of money and what it is for. Letting them know that in the future, bills, food, and more will all be essential things that money is spent on.
Then identifying the difference between these and wants will be easier for your children and will help them further appreciate the value of money and what it is used for in adult daily life. If you would like to read up on a helpful budgeting percentage post about essential spending, you can look here, for a helpful breakdown of essentials that should be calculated for your budget. Once again, I want to stress that you don’t want your children to feel guilty over the money you spend on them for their essentials.
It is just a helpful learning tool to go through some expenses and talk about the differences between wants and needs, in order to help solidify the importance of money management for your kids.
How to use money wisely: budgeting and saving
Finally, you can do several projects with your child, such as creating a mock budget or even having them help you while you are planning out your budgeting system. You can help them come up with savings goals and allow them to make smart spending choices with the money that they earn from your opportunities around the house or in school.
The budgeting worksheet for kids, which is included in this post, is perfect for doing all of those things. It includes envelopes for different things, similar to the cash envelope budgeting system, which is referenced here. Obviously, the worksheet included in this post is specifically for kids, but it works off of the same general premise. There are envelopes for giving, spending, and saving that your child can use to spread out their funds and to help keep track of them.
They will write down the date they are putting in the money and the amount, along with a little description so they can keep track of their habits. The budget mock-up is also incredibly useful and helps you introduce expenses and savings in a format that is understandable for them. There is an income section where they can put the amount of money they earn, a savings section to keep track of their savings, a giving section to implement the aspect of charity and sharing, and a spending section to make sure they are tracking the money they are spending and how that affects their overall amount of money.
Having a giving section is very important for children because while we are a frugal family, we want to always remember the importance of giving to others and sharing the wealth when we can. These tips, tricks, and offered resources are sure to make teaching your children about money management easy and entertaining!