Whether the kids in your life are your own, extended family members, neighbors, or the youngsters of friends, you can be sure they're constantly learning. It's what kids do. Even when no one is lecturing, kids constantly absorb information, and mentally arrange it into lessons.
So when you want to teach kids about money, you won't have to try hard – after all, they're already learning from you.
Here are 5 fun activities to teach kids about saving, spending, and yes, even investing.
- Have kids design their own coin. Visit the U.S. Mint Kid's page to let your child customize her own coin. By the time she's done, she'll be able to tell you why coins have raised edges, what a coin's "field" is, and what it's for.
- Start a kid business. Brainstorm beyond the usual lemonade stand and have your child create something of ongoing value. This could be a useful craft for others, or a service provided. Think homemade greeting cards or basic lawn care. Seed the business with no more than $20, and let your child budget each month for business costs and profit. Allow the venture to run out of money instead of bailing it out. Then, discuss what to do differently next time, and start over with a different product or service.
- Comparison hunt. Using your word processing program's clip art, arrange a number of grocery items on an 8 ½" x 11" piece of paper with a blank line next to each item. Next time you're at the store, have your child find that item and write the price in its corresponding blank. At check out, have her circle the best "deal" among categories.
- Go old-school. Baby boomers will remember the 1975 Parker Brothers board game "Payday," which gets kids excited about managing money. Newer versions of the same game are great, but they don't include the option to buy insurance to cover your investments. Neither do they encourage aggressive saving. So dust off the old classic and see whose spending is the smartest.
- Stock market dabble. Famous entrepreneurs often say how as a child, they dipped their baby toes into investing, and still today use what they learned. Give your child a similar experience by downloading a free app like the StockMarketGame. Before diving into investments, kids use the app to learn how to identify companies whose stock is forecast to outperform others. With an emphasis on financial literacy, this game incorporates challenges that prepare kids for smart exchanges.
You won't teach kids about money overnight, but modeling a lifestyle of good choices – plus the occasional money game – will do the job.
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