3 Activities to Teach Your Children About Money

by Emily Guy Birken · 11 comments

Spring is nearly here! In addition to warmer weather, the return of baseball, and gardens blooming, the changing of the seasons will also bring you several opportunities to teach your kids about money. It’s never too early (or late!) to put your kids on the road to lifelong financially savvy decisions, so as you get ready for the end of winter, think about activities you can share with your kids that will teach them about money, as well as give you some fun family time. Here are three examples to get you started.

Yard Sale

Spring cleaning will help clear the cobwebs out of the house and your brain after a long winter cooped up inside, and it will give you the time to decide what possessions your family no longer needs. Most American families can stand to do this more than once a year, and even the most change-averse child will be excited to learn that old toys can be converted into cash at a yard sale.

Between advertising, pricing items, making change, and responsibly spending the spoils, a family yard sale is an excellent teachable moment for your children. If they are old enough to remember when the no-longer loved toy was new, it will be good for them to see that possessions do not necessarily keep their value. Watching customers haggling with you over prices will provide your children with a priceless introduction to the power of negotiation. Even learning that yard sales do not do well on rainy days will help children to understand that it’s important to always have a backup plan. Overall, you will clear your house of clutter and teach your children how finances work. It’s a win-win.

Mowing Lawns

It’s a grand tradition for neighborhood teenagers to earn money by doing yard work for others. This spring, why not encourage your tween or teen to canvass the neighbors for lawn-mowing opportunities? This can help your child to understand that savvy pricing of his services, good advertising (even if it’s just word of mouth) and excellent service will translate to more money in his pocket. By giving him control of his own miniature business (provided he is allowed to borrow the family mower), you will give him a basic understanding of the relationship between money and hard work.

Lemonade Stands

For smaller children, there is no more quintessential summer experience than opening a lemonade stand. While this may be no more elaborate than setting up a card table on the sidewalk in front of your house, you can make the entire experience more memorable and educational through planning. Decide where and when you will set up your lemonade stand. For example, if there is a nearby festival or farmer’s market in your neighborhood, choose to put up your stand to take advantage of the foot traffic. (Do make sure that you are allowed to do so ahead of time, however). Include your children in the shopping for the lemons, sugar and ice so that they can help decide on an appropriate price per glass and estimate how much profit you will make. Determine fun and easy ways to advertise (like posters at nearby intersections) so that your kids will see that they can help to bring more customers.

Spring and summer provide you with some unique opportunities to teach your children about money. By making these lessons fun, you’ll help your kids to see that money is something worth learning about.

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  • Emily Guy Birken says:

    @Michelle, that’s a great question. I’ve never lived farther away from a city than suburbia, but one idea comes to mind. If your kids have green thumbs and you’ve got the land, growing their own vegetables and then selling them at a farmer’s market could be a great way to earn a little extra cash. Granted, you’d still need to help get them to and from the market, but asking them to use some of their profits to reimburse you for gas money will help them to better understand both the environmental and financial cost of not eating locally.

    Hope this is helpful, considering my lifelong city-slickerhood.

  • Michelle says:

    There are great ideas for people that live in town, but what about us rural residents?

    Having to drive my child to someone’s house to mow lawns etc. is not setting a good example. How can I teach my child to conserve gasoline, yet drive him all over to make a little pocket money?

    Any ideas on activities for the rural folks???

    Thanks so much!!!

  • Lyelle Palmer, Ph.D. says:

    Other worthwhile contributions by children are: window washing, dandelion collecting, trash collecting, plant watering, toy trade/sale day, cinnamon bar sidewalk sale, frozen cherries on a hot day (best candy ever), rent-a-kid, car cleaning, etc. Two or more children makes the event more playful. Some activities can include competition.

    Make sure pleasant social contact and satisfying celebration take place.

  • Wendy Mihm says:

    It’s never to early to start teaching kids about money, as long as you do it the right way, and this article matches activities to just the right age groups. I think another way to impart a good money lesson to kids is to show them that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have fun.

    • Kate says:

      This is the most valuable lesson you can ever teach your children. When I was growing up we were broke most of the time, but Daddy never let that get in the way of having a good time. A Sunday drive up to Minnewaska Falls, with a picnic lunch and our badminton set, a sports ball of some kind, and usually a pail for carrying home interesting rocks, was every bit as much fun for us as a movie with all the trimmings. And those nights when the folks had scraped up enough change to lead an expedition to the ice cream stand IN PENNSYLVANIA were red letter days. Yes, Pennsylvania was 20 minutes away. But that idea of going “to another state” for ice cream made it truly special. Another way to teach your kids about money is lay-away. If they want some high-priced article, put it on lay-away and let them pay from their allowance every week until it’s paid off. If they whine about it, say “Welcome to reality” and explain that you do the same thing every time you pay a house or car payment. I bet your kids have no idea that you don’t own either one outright.

  • rahadi says:

    my parents never teach me about money and they never tell me about their income how they get it and how they use or invest it?? is it good or bad??

  • Randy Addison says:

    We are always doing these three things every summer. My daughter loves to do the lemonade stand. While my teenage son does the lawn mowing. It is really a great experience to my kids to do such things.

  • Activities With Kids says:

    Shopping at yard sales is another great way to teach them about money. You can give them $1 at the beginning of the day and let them be responsible for carrying it and spending it. It’s a good lesson to help them learn to save their money for something they’ll really like. It also helps them to understand how much new toys, etc, cost in the store.

  • Bargaineering says:

    I always find it cute when kids help their parents at yard sales. It’s a nice controlled environment to teach your kids about finances.

    • MoneyNing says:

      The killer combination is when a kid starts promoting their goods and say it’s for a worthy cause. It’s almost impossible to say no.

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