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7 fun and easy ideas for raising money smart kids

What we'll cover

  • Ways to teach your kids positive money habits early

  • Giving them money management experience

  • Games to teach them about budgeting

Do you have financial lessons you wished you learned as a child? No wonder one of your #parentinggoals is to teach your kids about money. But you’re unsure about how to coach your littles — or how to make it feel like play in the process. So, start here.

Buddy up your kids and go shopping

Bring your kiddos on your next trip to the supermarket or mall. Give them a calculator or grocery shopping app so they can track purchases along the way. When you’re at a coffee shop or bakery, let them pay the cashier. Or use a stop at the gas station for a quick money tutorial. “I ask each of my children to help me pump gas, asking them to read how much it costs and telling them how the money transfers from my bank to the gas station,” says Catherine Alford, author of “Mom’s Got Money: A Millennial Mom’s Guide to Managing Money Like a Boss.”  Besides making them feel more grown up, these methods will teach them the costs of needs like food, clothing and transportation, as well as the transactional aspect of money — concepts you can continue to build upon as they get older.

Get your video game on

When it comes to some digital activities, there’s more than meets the eye. For example, there’s video games that allow kids to build virtual worlds while learning the basics of economics. While playing, kids can conduct transactions, protect their assets, monetize their skills and take other important financial actions. With a little research you can find some rather fun and informative video games pervaded with financial concepts. Some popular games even give players the opportunity to upgrade their homes and pay off debt by doing a variety of things like selling collected bugs or fruit.

Jim Wang's top ways to teach kids about money. Start with the basics. Explain what money is, how you use it, how you make it, and what you do with it. Frame purchases and tradeoffs. Instead of something costing $25, for example, frame it costing X number of their favorite toy. Remove emotions with money. Money shouldn't be associated with negativity, so help kids treat it as a tool without any judgement.

Give them the power

Let’s face it: Kids don’t get to make a lot of their own decisions. From distinguishing between  wants and needs to saving for multiple goals , many money lessons involve choices. Providing your child the ability to participate in decision making can be a great way for them to learn financial concepts. “We do this on vacation where we have more opportunities for ‘fun spending,’” says Jim Wang, founder of the personal finance blog Wallet Hacks . “We ask our kids whether they’d rather play arcade games right now or save money for something later, like ice cream.”

Set up a movie night concession stand

Who doesn’t love a night in front of the at-home silver screen with all the fixings? Help your children create a movie night concession stand with things like popcorn, candy and other snack staples. Encourage them to price each item according to what they think it’s worth and how much profit they think they can make. Then before the streaming starts, open for business and sell to family members. (Real money optional!)

Take a look, it’s in a book

The benefits of reading are endless, so it’s only natural that books can be used to teach kids good money habits. Not sure where to start? A quick internet search can give you great lists to work with. Or take your kids on an intergalactic adventure through the monetary cosmos with our Planet Zee gang . Then encourage them to have even more financial fun with our augmented reality Adventures with Zeee Bucks app , which lets them explore the concepts of earning, spending and saving.

Catherine Alford's top ways to teach kids about money. Start with a goal. Kids want stuff, and desire is one of the strongest emotions you can utilize to encourage children to learn. Do it together. If you're teaching kids about generosity, for example, help them find a charity to donate their money to. Discuss mistakes. It's fun and educational for kids to learn about the times their mom and dad messed up with money and shows they don’t need to be perfect with it.

Plan a game night

Board games can wash away the blues of a rainy day or add fun competition to a Friday night in. Whether accumulating a stack of fake money or building wealth by acquiring assets, board games can be an entertaining way to teach numerous financial concepts  from budgeting to investing. Game night for the win.

Give them money management experience

Instead of stashing money on a shelf, young earners can go virtual. Consider celebrating a birthday, holiday, or major milestone by opening a savings  account for your kid and making an initial deposit. Then set up Buckets in their Ally Bank Online Savings Account for spending, saving, and donating. Over time, they can play a part in choosing which to contribute to, while grasping the importance of charity and saving towards things they may want, like candy, a new phone case or a Lego set.

Also, consider opening them a custodial account through a brokerage, like Ally Invest .

Note: An adult would be required to conduct all account activity until the child reaches the age of majority (which varies from state to state). At which point, the custodian (adult) can transfer the account funds to the former minor, who could then open a new account.

Use what your kids love the most

The important takeaway from all of these ideas? Tap your kids’ favorite things to talk about money. If they’re sporty, explain the cost of their cleats, shin guards and soccer balls. Or if they’re captivated by building virtual worlds, capitalize on their love of video games to teach the basics of economics. When you find ways to demonstrate financial concepts using what kids love, it makes money matters fun and engaging — helping you raise responsible savers and spenders.

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