Going back to school looks different for every family this year. If you find yourself helping your children with remote learning, you have the unique opportunity to include some lessons on money and financial literacy. Helping your kids understand the importance of budgeting, financial responsibility, and the overall economy can help them immensely as they grow into teenagers and adults. No matter your child's age, it's never too early to start learning these real-world financial principles. There are a variety of free resources available to help make teaching basic finance concepts easier.

As you are helping to facilitate your children’s distance learning, here are a few tips and strategies for teaching them some money and finance basics.

Currency

To teach your kids about basic currency, it’s helpful to use age-appropriate tools. For young children, utilize realistic dollars and coins, but choose age-appropriate sizes.  Learning Resources offers a variety of realistic money and other financial education tools.

You can save your real currency by taking advantage of free printable play money.  When printing any educational money, follow the U.S. Department of Treasury's regulations by ensuring any bills are less than three-fourths the size of any actual currency and are only printed one-sided.

Budgeting

Introduce budgeting by using tools that are appropriate for your child’s age. A system of rewards can be useful when your elementary or preschool child is learning remotely. With a little planning, a rewards system can incentivize good behavior while teaching about finances at the same time. Create multiple levels of small rewards that be purchase with your realistic educational money. Empowering them to “earn” money through good behavior and begin exercising their purchasing power will introduce the concepts of budgeting, choosing how to spend their money and saving for larger prizes over time.

 Once you establish budgeting basics, you can begin to work in concepts related to banking such as checking accounts, writing checks, and the function of debits and credits. A wide variety of engaging personal finance tools are available for all ages at TeachersPayTeachers.com to help you easily introduce these topics.

Begin working with older children and teenagers on real-life budgets to better prepare them for the actual income and expenses they can anticipate once they are independent. An applicable and fun activity is to utilize your educational currency to establish an at-home economy.  Provide your child with a variety of career opportunities and “pay” them the appropriate salary for their career track with the understanding that their salary needs to budgeted in a way that they “pay” rent for their desk, utilities, supplies, and lunch/snacks and other real-world living expenses before spending their funds on fun items like activities, extra breaks, or any established incentives.

Saving

Now is the best time to teach your kids the value of waiting to spend their money. Encouraging them to save for a target reward, such as a specific outing they'd like to take or a new toy or video game, can be effective in teaching them this lesson.

Help them understand the importance of incorporating a savings line item into their budget. Work with your child to choose a portion of their “income”, whether allowance, part-time job, or educational currency, to save regularly. Depending on your child’s age, their savings goal can differ. A higher value prize bin can be used with elementary-age students using educational currency. A goal purchase or experience can work well for teenagers saving their allowance or work earnings.

A simple tip from Forbes to establish budgeting and saving is to create a Savings, Spending, and Sharing jars. Every time your child receives money, whether from an allowance, chores, a birthday, or a job, divide the money equally (or in whatever way you choose) among the jars. Have your child use the spending jar for small everyday purchases. Money in the sharing jar can go to someone you know who needs it or be used to donate to a cause close to your child’s heart. The savings jar should be built up for more expensive or valuable items over time.

Important Concepts for Any Age

No matter your child’s age, there are a few universal financial concepts that can prepare them for the world and the future. These can be implemented at home through concepts introduced above, but also through real-world situations in which money is earned or spent. This helpful article gives a variety applicable ways you can reinforce these ideas at home in easy-to-grasp ways.

  1. Throughout life, you may have to wait to buy things you want

This is a challenging concept for people of all ages. Delaying gratification when teaching your child about finances can help them be more successful later. Helping your kids learn the satisfaction of saving their money in order to spend later on something they really want can introduce vital financial disciplines that will be invaluable to them alter in life.

  1. How you spend your money is your choice

It is valuable for your child to understand that money is finite. Understanding this goes hand in hand with the importance of making wise money choices. These concepts will help you gradually involve your child in financial decision-making.

  1. Saving more money than you spend can help you achieve financial goals

As your child gets older, you can shift from the idea of saving for short-term goals to saving for long-term goals. Be sure to remind them that the less they spend, the more they will keep. As they save more, introducing concepts of interest on those savings can also be incentives for your child to save, no matter the amount.

All of these concepts can be taught directly to your children while at home, and can be used in situations both at home and later in the real world. The current state of the world and everything it entails can present many challenges, but it also presents great opportunities to train and educate your children in simple financial concepts and situations. Doing so during this time could pay dividends for the rest of their lives.

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