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Personal Finance for Young Kids

I’m aware that personal finance is hard. Even for adults!

I was taught personal finance at a young age by my parents, which is a very lucky thing! Even though I thought it was normal practice at the time…

I’ve noticed over the years that some of my friends and classmates didn’t get the same direction from their families, much less public education!

That’s why as soon as I became a parent, I knew that I wanted to teach finance to my kids at all costs! To set them up with good credit from the beginning, and show them how to save or spend in responsible ways.


The first tool I used to do this was a play money set that I picked up at a yard sale for CHEAP. Use the link to order your own, and read the tutorial below!


I collected a few things around the house that the kids always ask for:

  • Bubble Gum
  • Suckers
  • Tablets
  • Watercolors + Paper

Next, I arranged these goodies on our dining table, and attatched sticky notes with prices on each object.

(Start with whole dollars, not change!)

Third, I gave them each $5, $10 and $20 denominations of play money to start, and priced each item slightly below face value!

The reaction I got from the kids was surprising!

They were more than happy to participate in buying snacks and screen time!

The trick was then counting back change…

Now, as long as your child can count to ten, this is a perfect activity for them! My older child gobbled up this exercise, while the younger watched and absorbed, waiting for his turn.

This brings up a pet-peeve I continue to deal with while shopping myself! Have you tried to pay with cash for something recently and noticed that the cashier can’t count back change??!!

Anyway, we practiced with the play money until all the items were gone. It is important to switch places as buyer and cashier in your makeshift store.

Put things that you enjoy in the mix too- this way, your child can take your money for items and practice counting change back to you!

 As They Get Better

Throw in some change. Add .25 to your prices, and so on…

Break out the coins they will use in the set, or use the change from your wallet to teach the denominations of each coin. 

I found that quizzing them at random times about the values of coins made them remember better. Use those quarter gumball machines at the mall as a teaching opportunity! 😉 

As they get a little better with counting and math, keep up the home school “store” by adding increasingly attractive items. Make the math more challenging over time!

Remember that Learning is a Journey…

If they don’t catch on right away, keep trying! When they are frustrated take a break. Next time you need groceries, stop at the atm. Let your child hand money to the cashier, and let them always be involved in your personal finances as a parent!

From cash to credit, savings to loans… make your child part of your conversations about money! In time, I guarentee they will thank you for the most important advice you could give about finances, and pass the lessons on to their own children one day.

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