5 Lessons Every Child Should Know About Money

by Jamie Simmerman · 14 comments

Your children being 5, 15, or 25 wouldn’t better – learning about money is a lifelong process, and the lessons they learn early on will affect the lessons they learn later in life. While it’s never too late to start learning about how to handle finances, some lessons, like the ones that form one’s attitude and beliefs about money, are more important than others. Here are five your child of any age should know.

  1. Losing money is a part of life. Everyone loses money, perhaps children more often than adults, but financial loses happen. Your child may drop twenty dollars from a pocket at the mall, misplace a school fundraiser envelope, or have their lunch money stolen. How you react to the situation will affect how your child views money for the rest of his or her life. If your child acted irresponsibly and contributed to the loss, it’s important to help him or her take responsibility for their actions. However, you should talk with your child and explain that mistakes are part of the learning process, and formulate ideas to help prevent losses in the future. Punishment for losing money is usually not necessary, but the child may be given extra responsibilities to help recover the lost funds. Extra chores, after-school jobs, and community services may all be viable options for helping your child take responsibility for the loss.
  2. You don’t have to keep all money that comes your way. One of the best ways to foster a healthy attitude toward money is to encourage your child to give to others. Whether you set up a structured system, such as tithing, or if you keep a special find for giving to others in need when the opportunity arises, it’s important to teach your child about giving early on.
  3. Spending is to be expected. Especially when children begin to be aware of money, you can expect a long list of wants and needs to ensue. Help your child learn to narrow their shopping list to include items that will enrich their life. You can set aside a very small fund for small toys and consumables (like candy, stickers, art supplies), but the majority of your child’s spending money should go towards items that are higher quality and will be used and enjoyed for a long period of time.
  4. Saving is essential. You should stress that saving is not an option, but essential even if your child decides to save just one dollar a month. Your child doesn’t have to save a large portion of their money, but he or she should set back something from every monetary source. Birthday and Christmas gifts of money or allowances should be examined and a portion allocated for saving.
  5. Well-managed money is the goal. When learning about finances, your child may get caught up in the excitement of saving, spending, and investing, but your job as a parent is to help him or her stay focused on the main goal – to manage their money well. Even if investments don’t perform well, wise money management is a rewarding process for children when a parent supports them.

It’s never too early to begin saving for college, investing for future expenses, and learning to spend responsibly. Money earned and saved little by little fosters a healthy, responsible attitude for life.  What money lessons do you think are essential for children?

Btw, there's a pretty nifty tool that motivates your kids to do chores. It's called MyJobChart.com. With a free account, they can earn points for finishing jobs you assign them, good towards free merchandise. Give it a try. It's completely free!

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Modest Money April 5, 2012 at 7:14 am

The earlier a child learns these kinds of money lessons, the better. It is much better that they establish responsible views about money instead of having to learn those lessons the hard way later in life. One that I feel is important is teaching them that you have to work hard to make money. If they want something, teach them the necessity of working towards it instead of just spoiling them and buying it right away.

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Chris@SimpleFamilyFinance April 5, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Thanks for the article!
As the father of a 4 month old son, I’m looking forward to teaching him about money and how to deal with it. I think teaching the importance of priorities is an important part of financial education. Spending on the “right” things, giving to others, saving over wasting are all triggered by proper priorities. It also teaches that spending money on the fun stuff is important, but needs to take a backseat if your top priorities haven’t been fulfilled yet (debt, charity, family, etc) .

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Jeff Crews April 5, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Some great tips here that I was taught at a young age. I think “giving” is crucial! So many times I have chosen to “give”, and it has been one of the most rewarding things ever! Teach children to “give” at a young age, and I am pretty sure you will show them something that will make them standout when they are older!

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Jean April 7, 2012 at 1:16 am

That is definitely some sound financial advice for kids to live by. They need to learn the value of managing their funds the best way. When to hold off temptation to save up for a better goal and when an expenditure is necessary.

-Jean

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Rika Susan April 7, 2012 at 1:42 am

Unfortunately, it seems that an entire generation has missed out on learning solid money management skills. If only these skills and lessons could be taught in schools.

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Roberto April 11, 2012 at 9:01 pm

Please remember, school is not meant to teach every kid every aspect of everyday life. That’s what parents are for. Besides, if teachers don’t (or won’t) teach, its up to us parents to fill in the gap. Who knows, in teaching our kids about finance, we might actually learn something ourselves!

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Jean April 15, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Good point. School is probably never going to teach all the skills that you need in life..

-Jean

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Marbella April 7, 2012 at 3:48 am

I often say that children must learn to work and save money for something they really want. When they have got together with enough money, they usually realize much more value in what they are buying in this way and sometimes abstain from the buying and save money instead to the future.

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karen lee April 10, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Kids need to start learning early, unfortunately it does not and is ignored by most families. My husband who is a financial analyst wanted to do a course for high school seniors but was refused.

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Roberto April 11, 2012 at 9:04 pm

I feel you, Karen. (Can I call you Karen?). When my kid’s school denied my offer to teach music and finance, all I did was start teaching and tutoring privately. True I may not reach all the kids at once, but the smaller classes of one to six that I do facilitate help the learning go down a little easier.

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Thad P @ thadthoughts.com April 10, 2012 at 7:23 pm

I really like this list. Well rounded and realistic.

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Roberto April 11, 2012 at 9:11 pm

One thing I did with my 8 year old is had him start a “money journal.” Now, to you and me, it’s a budget or cash book, but to my son, it’s like keeping track of the people who gave him Christmas and birthday money. He knows who to thank and who to send a reminder to.

It also helps him be able to do math in his head. One unintended bonus is the pride he feels when he wants something and I say, “I’m short at the moment,” and he replys, “Don’t worry, Papi, I’ve got it.”

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Jaunita Bandy April 16, 2012 at 3:52 am

your child’s spending money should go towards items that are higher quality and will be used and enjoyed for a long period of time.

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Hector Castro August 28, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Unfortunately, it seems that an entire generation has missed out on learning solid money management skills. If only these skills and lessons could be taught in schools.

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