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Kids & Money: Using Visuals to Teach Your Children

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Money jarOne of the reasons that teaching children about money is so difficult is due to the often abstract nature of money. Few of us use cash anymore, s it can be even more difficult to teach kids lessons about money. There are things you can do, though, to help your child grasp financial concepts.

The use of visuals can be one of the best ways to help your child gain an understanding of money. Here are some visual ways you can help your child learn vital money lessons:

Money Jar

One of the best ways to help your child understand money, and the importance of watching it grow, is with the help of a money jar. The best visual is, of course, something your children can see, so a clear container is a good idea. This way, children can watch as their money adds up. My son loves the big pickle jar that serves as his spending money “bank.” He can easily see how much is in there, and gauge what he has. If you use “matching contributions” to encourage your children to save more, putting them in a jar can be especially beneficial.

Different Jars/Envelopes

Help your child understand that different money is used for different purposes by putting it in different containers. My son has a “spending” jar, a “long-term savings” container, and a container for tithing and other charitable contributions. He knows that all of his money has a purpose, even his spending money: He regularly tapes the picture of some toy to his “spending” jar to remind him what he’s working toward as a short-term goal.

Let your child decorate the containers as they wish, and they will feel more ownership for the goal, and more excited about contributing to each of the containers.

Goal Chart

One of the ways we used to teach my son about saving for goals was to create a chart. We’d figure out what he got in allowance, and how many weeks it would take him to reach his goal. We created squares for him to color in — one for each week (or it could work out with one square for each dollar). He drew a picture, or cut one out of a catalog, for the chart. Then, he had a great time filling in the squares. We also did a variation with stickers when he was going through his sticker phase. He had as much fun filling in the chart as he did actually getting the toy! And the visual really helped him put patience into perspective.

Games and Reading Materials

There are also great games that can visual help other children learn about money. My son loves Monopoly. The Game of Life is also a good choice. There are also publications, including Zillions from Consumer Reports, and Quest for the Pillars of Wealth, by J.J. Pritchard, that can be fun — and visual — ways for children to learn sound financial principles.

What are some of your ideas for visually teaching children about money?

(Photo: RambergMediaImages)

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8 Responses to “Kids & Money: Using Visuals to Teach Your Children”

  1. Evan says:

    How old is your son? Just curious when these types of lessons will really resonate with kids.

    • Frugal says:

      I was thinking the same. My kids are pre-teen now and above suggestions are not necessarily the best for them. I guess Jim has 7-8 YO son.

      • Miranda says:

        Yeah. My son is almost 9, and these methods were great for him. Most of these are for young kids, since older kids can think more abstractly. I wrote a post about teaching older kids about interest, and one about teaching them about investing, in the past. The visuals are a little different, including lending them money and having them pay you interest, and then “borrowing” from them to pay them interest, as well as suggesting online investing practice games. Those are visuals that can stick with older kids.

  2. piggy bank says:

    My parents started teaching us about money at a very young age. As long as I can remember I had my own box to save money in where I would separate money into Saving, fun, and Tithing. Another fun thing my parents did was they put a large piggy bank shaped container on a shelf and said when it was full we could all go to Disney Land. So every time we had spare change we would add it to the bank. I am sure the piggy bank was mostly filled with change from my dads pockets. But seeing it fill up helped me learn that you have to save to go on vacation and that it was a family effort/expense. The vacation was great and I was around 7 years old.

  3. Strebkr says:

    Can’t wait to start teaching my 2 year old and 8 month old boys this stuff soon.

  4. jsbrendog says:

    it is always good to start teaching them about money young. My parents had an unorthodox method, making all the wrong decisions and crippling the family. obviously they were just showing me what not to do! kudos. i’m surprised no one has capitalized on the cross marekting of teaching kids about money and the barney/wiggles/yo gabba gabba phenomenon.

    i feel like young kids could learn about money visually through some of the figures they watch/see daily

  5. Jane says:

    This is off topic, but do readers have any suggestion as to how to save for a newborn? I don’t necessarily mean save for college or save money for any particular landmark event, but if there’s a newborn in my family, and I’d like to save some money on to be used on the child 18-20 years from now, what do you suggest? 529 savings plans? Where?

  6. skylog says:

    love the posts miranda! i do not have any children, but i can’t help but think that this is exactly what this country, well, world needs.

    so many people in my circle have horrid money skills. it is scary. i think it must be, at least in part, to little, no or poor education on the topic.

    this can only help.


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