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  • Writer's pictureFrankie Copsey

Set Your Kids Up to Win With Money With These Strategies

Updated: Nov 12, 2020

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If you have kids, you know that they are ALWAYS watching you; learning from every little action you make. This includes personal finance and how you handle money. If you are swiping a card every time you go to the store or fighting with your spouse about spending; your kids are going to notice.

Some kids go their entire childhood without a clue how money works because their parents never talked about money; setting up the potential to make huge money mistakes in adulthood.

What should you be doing to teach your kids about money?

Raising money-smart kids does not mean sitting them down and going over mortgage rates and investments strategies. It is much simpler than that and starts with you setting a good example.


How can you start opening the lines of financial communication?

Start Slow

Simply start answering your kids’ money questions at an age-appropriate level. You will be surprised what they already know and what they are curious to learn more about.

Be Truthful

Rather than hiding your financial failures or covering it up when money is tight, tell your kids the truth. If you regret running up debts in your past and struggled to pay them back, share that with your child. Your children will appreciate the open and honest conversations and learn a valuable lesson about spending.

Discuss values, not numbers.

Your kids don’t need to know your salary or the sums of major expenses. They need concepts like budgeting, paying down debt, saving, and giving.

Set Family Goals Let your children sit in on and contribute to family budget meetings. While only mom and dad make the final decisions, letting your children be a part of the process creates buy-in. They are more willing to sacrifice little things to meet a goal for a big thing.


Now that you’ve opened lines of financial communication, let’s get into some of the best age appropriate strategies that will have your kids winning with money.

Pre-Schoolers and Kindergartners

Create Save/Spend/Give Jars

Kids at this age need a visual. Create Save, Spend, and Give jars so they can see their money growing. Yesterday there may have been two dollars and today there is two dollars and two quarters. Talk through the changes and make a big deal about the money GROWING!

Show them that stuff costs money

Rather than saying, “That Barbie costs $10”, let your child physically take dollars out of their spend jar and go to the store with it. Give your child the opportunity to pick the item and pay the clerk. This directly connects the item, money, and spending.


Looking to start saving for your child's future.? Try U-Nest.

U-Nest is a mobile app that helps you save for your kid’s education by starting a tax-free investment fund. You can open an account in just 5 minutes, and start investing for as little as $25 per month.


Elementary Students and Middle Schoolers

Weigh Opportunity and Cost.

At this age kids can weigh decisions and understand the potential outcomes of their decisions.

Here’s an example:

Your son wants an expensive video game and wants school shoes that are above the cost you’re willing to spend. He was the money for one, but not both. Let your child weigh the importance and cost.

Saying, “It’s your choice but remember if you get the video game, you won’t have enough money to put towards the expensive school shoes you wanted”. Give your child choice and guidance.

Earn money, not allowances.

It’s so important that kids learn that money is earned. I can’t stress this enough. Don’t just give your kids money, pay them based on chores they do above and beyond what’s regularly expected in your house.

I’m not an advocate of paying kids for all their chores. Everyone in our family is expected to contribute to the household chores without earning a thing because …THAT’S CALLED LIFE.

However, if your child would like some money, pay them in exchange for cleaning out your car, mowing the grass, or something worth an hourly rate.

Prevent Impulse Purchases.

“Mom, I just found the cutest jeans. They are perfect and just like the ones my friends are wearing! Will you buy them please?”

Does this sound familiar, it’s straight from the teenage girl handbook to conquering your parents. Just kidding! But seriously, this age group knows how to capitalize on the impulse buys and they don’t care who’s money they use.

My answer to this question is always the same..If you really want it you can pay for it with your own money.

It’s funny how quickly the “must have” item falls down the list once your child’s money is at stake.

Another strategy is to invoke a two-day waiting period for anything over $20. If your child truly wants something, they will still want it after a few days of waiting and making a decision with a level head. (If you’re struggling with impulse spending.. click here for some strategies to conquer your own spending.)



Teach Contentment

Teenagers, social media, and the comparison trap. … lord help us all! If you have a teenage you know exactly what I’m talking about and if you don’t be grateful you found this first.

As a parent you may hear things like:

“Dad, Tanner’s parents bought him a brand new truck! Why do I have to drive this old beater?”

“Mom, Kelsey spent $1,000 on her prom dress from the bridal shop. I want a dress like that too.”

Let your teen know that their old truck is still running well enough to get them where they need to be. And you can still have an amazing prom experience despite the price tag on the dress.

Contentment starts at home and happiness doesn’t have a price tag!

Teach the Responsibility of a Bank Account.

If you’ve been actively talking to your child about money over the course of their life, setting up a bank account takes money management to the next level. Give your teen the responsibility of managing their own money. Setting up simple checking and savings accounts along with rules on spending and saving gives your teen both the structure and freedom they need to start handling money. Have frequent check-ins and monitor the account.

Here’s an example:

Last year, I set up a checking account for my daughter to go along with her savings account. When she earns money, she knows 30% of it automatically goes into her savings and cannot be touched – NO QUESTIONS ASKED. The rest goes into her checking. She knows that every month she needs enough money in her checking account to cover her cell phone bill. She’s had to make choices on her spending and weigh the importance of purchases versus her cell phone.

There have been times she’s gone without her prepaid cellphone (if you're looking for a great prepaid plan for a young teen, look into Tello Mobile) because she wanted new shoes, but it’s her choice and she’s learning to handle her money.

Get your teen in the habit of budgeting their income—no matter how small. Making a plan for your money is an important life lesson that should be learned while they are still under your roof.

Save for College and AVOID Student Loans.

Long before your teenager applies, you need to have the talk of “how do we pay for college”. It’s important that your teenager know STUDENT LOANS ARE NOT AN OPTION.

Talk through the cost of different colleges; community college vs: out of state tuition and how those tuition bills will effect them down the road. Do they need to work part-time while in school? How much money do they need to have saved?

Make a plan long before college starts. If your teenager is working in the summer, what portion of that goes towards college?

Credit Cards are to your teen!

The day your teen turns 18, they are going to start getting bombarded with credit card offers. Talk to your teenager about credit cards and why debt is a bad idea so they don’t become another victim.

Introduce Compound Interest.

Compound interest is a magical thing that can either work for you or against you! Introduce this concept to your teenager at an early age. This is one of the best ways to give your child a head start for their future.

If your teenager needs to borrow money from you, charge them interest. Let them see how the compound interests has negative effects on them as the borrower and benefits you as the lender. This will teach them very quickly what side of compound interest they’d like to be on and it’s much better they learn this lesson from you.

Your kids will learn about money from someone. Don’t let it be from an a celebrity on social media or the credit card customer service rep. You are the guiding voice they can trust. So just start talking to them about money already; set them up for a financial future you both can be proud of!


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