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Teaching Kids How to Make ‘Sense’ of Money This Gift-Giving Season

As the winter holidays push retailers and advertisers into overdrive, the tendency of children to always want ‘more’ only intensifies. And while it’s no doubt a hectic time of year, it’s also a great opportunity to teach kids about the value of money (and gratitude)!

Here are some ways to help:


  • Slow down and start talking.
    Schedules are busy so we often rush through stores and zip through checkout lanes. But taking a step back, slowing down and talking about what you’re doing when you’re shopping, at the bank or even before/after work with your little one can help them start to understand how money is earned and exchanged, and begin to have a greater appreciation for what they have.
  • Consider using cash.
    While debit and credit cards are the norm, they can initially make the concept of money harder for children to grasp. Try keeping your cards in your wallet once in a while and use cash to pay. You can even have your son or daughter help count out money at the register, which draws their attention to the numbers behind the purchase and the physical exchange of currency for goods or services.
  • Set up shop at home.
    A fun way to introduce or practice understanding the value of money is to set up a play store at home. Use sticky notes to label objects with price tags (stick with whole numbers to keep it easy). Then, give your child dollar bills to pretend to shop for some of their favorite items. This activity gives way to discussions about how each item at a store costs different amounts of money and encourages decision-making skills with a limited supply of cash.
  • Get to work.
    Whether it’s a weekly allowance or a sticker/reward chart, these are good teaching tools to help elementary-age children understand the value of work and that, as your parents might have told you, money doesn’t grow on trees. The chores don’t have to be strenuous (think cleaning up around the house, putting away laundry or feeding the family pet) but are effective in having kids learn by doing. This also opens the door to teachable moments about saving versus spending, even in simple terms.

Teaching and talking to your kids at a young age about money has many benefits, and may give your child a new perspective during this season of giving.

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