How to Teach the Value of a Dollar (with Activities on Pinterest)
Learning doesn’t stop beyond a classroom, that’s why we put together a list of fun, interactive ways to help teach the importance of a dollar. And, there’s no time like the present! Here are some ways to get your child interested in learning about money at any age.
Ages 2-5 (Junior Account Programs)
Young children learn through observation and mimicking behaviors, hands-on experience, and play at this age. And because children develop at different paces and enjoy learning new things, it’s a good idea to offer a variety of money-related activities. Here are a few money activities to try with your little one:
Coin sorting. Get your toddler acquainted with the coins by having them sort a pile of coins (real or fake, depending on how comfortable you are with your child handling small objects) into different colored bowls or sections. Repeating the names of these coins as they separate them is also a great way to expand their financial vocabulary.
Play ‘Grocery Store’. This is a great way to teach the process of purchasing an item—even if it doesn’t totally stick for young ones at this age. Print out ‘price tags’, and have fun assigning the different price tags to items in your pantry.
If you have a toy cash register, encourage them to play the shopkeeper role, and practice exchanging money for the items.
Learn how to play the Grocery Store game.
Start a ‘Rewards Achievement Board’. Create an achievement board that rewards and provides positive reinforcement for something you want them doing, or a new goal you’d like them to fulfill. From cleaning up toys to potty training successes, achievements can become the equivalent to specific monetary goals (like purchasing a new toy or saving all the reward money in a piggy bank).
Ages 6-11 (Junior Account / Financial Youth)
Kids in this age group may be learning money lessons at school or may just begin questioning how money works. Here are a few games and activities to introduce the concept of spending, saving, and sharing.
The Bank of ____ Game. A memory game you can make at home, design a Bank of (Name) poster to hang on the wall of your child’s room. Make paper “wallets” to tape to the poster with different amount of coins inside them.
Want to make it more challenging? Set up your child’s Bank the night before and task them with finding the right combination of coins in the wallet the next morning (and possibly reward them for finding it if they beat a timer!).
Allowance. Giving your child an allowance can play a critical role in your child learning the true value of a dollar. Combine this with teaching Spend, Save, Share method—putting the responsibility of money handling in your child’s hands can teach him/her a lot about money, quickly.
Create a Money Scavenger Hunt game. Set up a real Treasure Hunt in your home or yard to encourage learning more about money and its value. Examples include hiding money in a place you may typically find loose change (i.e. between couch cushions or next to the washer/dryer) or give money related hints (i.e. Hint: George Washington is on the dollar bill! Your next place is found next to the ____ he swore not to chop down when he was a little boy. Answer: Tree).
Budget a trip to the grocery store together. Introduce your kids to the reality of spending a dollar at the grocery store. Try giving each child a small budget ($10-$20) and challenge them with helping you find ingredients for making dinner together. Or show them your grocery list at home, and discuss the cost of each item before taking the trip and show them how you budget and cross off your list as you go through the store.
Ages 12-14 (Financial Youth Group / Young Adult Financial Group)
Talking about money may prove more challenging than others for this age group. While a little too young to join the traditional work force, your young teen may find alternative ways of making income that goes beyond a weekly allowance. It’s a good time to start discussing the benefit of being patient when it comes to saving money for a larger purchase.
Create a Savings Goal Tracker. Your young teen probably has his/her eye on an expensive item. Whether earning a regular allowance or financially rewarded for completing tasks around the house, it’s a great time to show the benefit of saving money to purchase a “luxury” item. Teaching the power of saving and discussing the great feeling knowing that item was purchased after being patient to save enough is a great lesson.
Play a Quick 12 Month Budget Game. Play this game with your teen to see how he/she responds to budgeting for an entire house. The idea is pretty simple: Set your child up with a monthly income (whatever the typical minimum wage is where you live), and outline nine budget categories:
2. Rent (Heat/Electric/Internet included)
4. Car (Gas and insurance)
5. Cell Phone
7. Entertainment/Eating Out (movies/shows/restaurants)
You can mix up the categories, or change them up to fit your budgeting lesson. Give your child three different options for each category with details of the bill (i.e. what is being paid) and watch him/her make monthly decisions on how to spend.
Ages 15-18 (Young Adult Financial Group)
Your teen is probably thinking about starting a part-time job to purchase “luxury” items, or will be tasked with financially taking over a bill, like a cell phone or car insurance payment. Check out these ideas for introducing new financial responsibility.
Start researching scholarships and financial aid. College is on the horizon and scholarships are a great resource for soon-to-be high school graduates. The more you know about qualifying for scholarships and certain financial aid, the better.
Youth account programs are a great platform to start teaching your child(ren) about the importance of saving money, at any age. Open an account online. Questions? Call our Member Contact Center at 1-877-325-2848 or reach us on our contact form.
What are some money activities or lessons you’ve taught your children? Share your favorite Pinterest or DIY pins with us in the comments!