Do you want to teach your kids about budgeting this summer? Most youngsters –59%– felt they could be smarter about money, according to a survey this year from broker T. Rowe Price Group, showing there’s plenty of room for improvement. By doing fun budgeting activities with your kids while they’re out of school, you could help them feel more confident about their financial skills. Here are some activities to get you started:
Ages 3-5: Talk about choices
Your little one might not realize it, but he makes lots of choices every day about food, clothes and free time. Making good choices and understanding trade-offs are both important concepts in budgeting and can help your kid manage money more effectively later on.
The next time you’re shopping with your youngster, ask him to help you make shopping decisions. For instance, if the child asks for a set of markers and you notice that a pack with more colors is going on sale soon, ask him if he wants to get it now, or if he’d rather wait to get the larger package later as well as a small treat covered by the savings. These types of questions can help him learn about how having a little patience now can lead to a bigger payoff later on.
Ages 6-7: Make a 3-part budget
If you start giving your young one an allowance at age 6, as family finance expert Mary Hunt suggests, talk to her about how she plans to handle what she receives. Coming up with a budget together can help your child develop the skills to make smarter spending decisions.
For a fun summer activity, help her make customized budgeting jars for to collect money for spending, saving, and giving. Cut slots through the tops of three jars and help her decorate them with stickers or pictures showing her goals for each category. Seeing her goals every day may inspire her to budget more carefully.
Ages 8-12: Tour a credit union
While younger kids might resist the idea of putting money in a savings account, by age 8 or 9 they are often savvier and have a better notion of how financial institutions work. With school out for the summer, now can be a great time to help your child open his first savings account.
Take him on a field trip to your credit union and help him join and open a youth account. Some of these programs, such as United Financial Credit Union’s Dime-A-Saurus Kids Club, offer prizes each time a youngster makes a deposit. Have your child ask questions about fees, interest rates and rewards to help him understand those elements and get motivated to set aside more money in his budget for savings.
Ages 13-18: Draw up a clothes and shoes budget
If your teen is making some extra money at a summer job, use the opportunity to give her a little more spending responsibility. When she has to budget for both wants and needs, it will teach her about choosing priorities. Are new sneakers more important than the latest video game?
Leave back-to-school shopping to your teen this year. Before she visits her favorite stores, share shopping strategies with her and help her find coupons online, in circulars and newspapers. Have her create a spending plan and stick to it. By giving her the freedom to buy her own clothes and shoes, she’ll feel more confident about her ability to budget for needs while still saving for the future – skills that will pay dividends for a lifetime.
Cherise Fantus, NerdWallet