Tips for teaching kids about personal finance

Among the most important life skills teens approaching adulthood should have are those pertaining to money. This does not just refer to the ability to make change, budget and save, but also includes attitudes concerning money.


It is commonly agreed that children need to learn the value of money. One way to do this is by giving them chances to earn their own money early on. For instance, if they receive an allowance, then it should be for a job well done. Teens must also feel free to make choices about how they use the money they have earned so they learn about money management through first-hand experience. Those kids without such practice are more prone to lose their minds when they begin to earn large amounts. They often have no clue as to how to manage cash in a smart way.


Teaching teens how to save even small amounts should begin when they are tots, but this is also a valuable lesson at any age. Showing them the good saving habits of adults is the best lesson they can receive. When they see parents with a savings plan and the actual results of reaching certain positive financial goals, then they will pick up on the value of the lesson and the excitement of the achievement. Mentioning about how long it takes to reach a goal is also beneficial since most teens show characteristics of impatience and desire instant gratification. The idea that almost any goal can be reached via small steps is very helpful.

Cash handling

The inability to make change is a shameful problem among young people. To demonstrate problems in cash handling, don’t offer children a larger dollar amount, but the exact change. Alternatively, switch the original offered money to a different denomination of bills and watch how confusion or even panic sets in. Without the register telling them the exact amount of change to return, that puzzled look often appears.

When children are young, playing board games that involve counting and money exchanging helps in the future. Monopoly and the game of Life also offer chances to learn about money. Improvised games such as grocery store with play money are also possible. Kids should be able to figure amounts of purchases and make change. It is enlightening to see smart kids have some difficulty with this process. 

Often kids learn cash handling skills when they sell products or help at fund raising events for school, church or scouts. These are also great opportunities for them to master simple skills. Otherwise, parents must teach those things. For example, teens may not want to engage in games or role playing type games to learn how to count money. Instead, they can be instructed to learn and demonstrate cash handling skills on their own before being allowed to apply or take a job.

Financial attitude

Attitudes concerning money are as important as any other skills. Teens must learn that making money is only one part of their overall work and career choice. It is much better to make a smaller amount of money doing something you love, than large salaries for a job you hate. I admit this is my own philosophy, but many others agree with me. It is hard to face a lifetime of work you dislike simply because you believe it will produce the best salary. Stress education and the ability to do fulfilling work that makes you happy above chasing the big bucks.

Teach kids that money has value. There are those folks who will not stoop down to pick up a coin. This reflects an attitude of overabundant money. The government we live under produces this money and it should be given the respect it deserves. The Christian value of stewardship of money and not wasting it also reflects this positive attitude about money. No coin is not worthy of a home in a piggy bank.

If teens do not learn to respect small sums of money, then they will never have large sums to worry about. The idea that money doesn’t grow on trees is timeless. The notion that working for things and saving for them is also important to be aware of. Working hard and having integrity are more important than how rich one becomes. Successfully conveying this message to teens is something to be proud of.

Teaching children about money management better prepares them for adult life. Moreover, when kids become older, their financial mistakes are often more costly as well. This gives good reason for parents to teach their children financial lessons when they are younger.