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Kids & Money: Using Visuals to Teach Your Children

One of the reasons that teaching children about money [3] 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 [4]” 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 [5]. 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 [6])