Teach Your Elementary Student Lifelong Money Lessons in 2024
As the new year kicks off, families naturally start to think about smarter finances. Holiday spending is behind you, and it’s the perfect time to continue or even increase your savings. And the reality is that higher prices are persisting, especially at the grocery store, so it makes sense to devise a plan.
For optimum success, experts encourage parents to involve their school-aged children in the process. Think 5 to 11 years old — even kindergartners and first graders can understand what money is, how to use it and how to earn it.
As you discuss concepts like needs versus wants and the benefits of saving over time, remember to make it fun and maybe even a little challenging. Play some games or hold a friendly competition. Take them along when you shop for groceries and solicit their ideas about making the dollars stretch farther or task them with staying within a specific price range for some of their favorite snacks.
Whatever your approach, take the time to talk with them about what you’re doing along the way. Experts say it’s important for parents to demystify money by having frequent conversations about it as their children grow. This kind of open communication is key to establishing lifelong healthy spending and saving habits.
To help you out, we came up with 5 ways to teach your elementary-aged students some lifelong money lessons in 2024:
- Pay Your Child for Household Chores. Doing small jobs around the house is a great way for kids to learn responsibility, hard work and basic life skills. Be sure to explain to your child how much each chore pays and create a weekly or monthly schedule showing when the jobs must be completed. It’s a win-win — while they earn money, you get help with everything from taking out the trash to vacuuming to doing laundry! Along the way you can also discuss with your child the wisdom of saving a portion of their income as they earn.
- Save (as a Family) for a Family Outing. Decide on a fun activity — whether it’s a meal at a favorite restaurant, a day at an amusement park or a family vacation — and encourage everyone to contribute as they can. Set a goal and keep track of your progress in a central location. This is a fun way for parents to model saving for their kids and demonstrate that saving is a habit that can pay off down the road.
- Open a 529 Savings Plan. Explain to your kids that you are actively saving for their college expenses and invite them to contribute a portion of their birthday or holiday money to the account. To make it more real to them, talk about the money you are saving and how they might want to use it after graduating from high school. The good news is the ways you can use your 529 plan are expanding. In addition to a traditional college or university, your child can use their money for certain apprenticeship programs, professional certifications and job training in fields such as the culinary arts, aviation and financial services.
- Give Your Child a Piggy Bank or Savings Jar. It’s a little old school, but an effective way to stress the overall value of money, even pennies and nickels! Encourage your child to designate this spare change for a specific purpose — anything from their favorite candy to a new toy — so they have something to look forward to as the money grows over time.
- Sign Up for a Child-Friendly Debit Card App. Teach your child to be smart with money by giving them the ability to spend and save — with clear safeguards — on their own. Debit card apps like GoHenry, Greenlight and BusyKid give kids the opportunity to learn in-app lessons about spending and saving, make ATM withdrawals, assign themselves chores, track spending, donate to charity and save for individual goals. These apps and cards allow parents to monitor all activity, and most charge fees ranging from $5 to $15.