Educating kids about money enables them to manage their own funds, instills the value of saving, and helps them learn about the benefits of investing. Providing children and teens with fun and creative ways to learn about how money works will also set them up for financial success as adults. Now more than ever, thanks to the Internet, it is a snap to pass along concepts involved with all aspects of money management. Of course, there are the old standbys that also drive home the point that it’s never too early to begin learning about dollars and cents.
For preschool age children, the simple practice of keeping a piggy bank is a great place to start learning about money. Saving their own money in a piggy bank is a wonderful way to teach counting, adding, and subtracting. Play grocery stores, cash registers, and even toy credit card machines will have young minds grasping the give and take of cash flow, and hopefully, how to get the most for their kiddy cash. Have you ever witnessed how frugal a five-year old can be when faced with the prospect of dipping into their own funds for a toy or treat? Money flash cards that depict the values of coins and paper bills is another useful, fun tool.
The board games that so many of us had as kids are new and improved and thanks to devices such as the I-pad, are even easier to play. Of course Monopoly is the gold standard. In addition to counting money, players also make financial decisions, buy and sell property, and even have the chance to be a landlord. The Game of Life, teaches about career and income choices, earning a living, and how to budget. In the game Payday, participants have a job, pay bills, learn the concept of interest, lend money and experience what can happen when there are unexpected expenses.
There are an amazing number of free, interactive online games for all ages that teach the concepts of banking, budgeting, investing, saving, and credit. A few worth checking out are Planet Orange, Reality Check, and Escape from Knab, which employs video game-like activities and situations. A number of financial institutions and credit card companies, such as Visa and the US Mint, have links to games on their websites for imaginary money management.
If you are not exactly money savvy, playing a few games with the kids could be just the ticket towards financial freedom!