Put in a little effort to help your kids climb on the bargain bandwagon, and you'll reward yourself and your family many times over!
1. Play with money.
Play “store” with toy money and plastic play food (or real food). Take turns being customer and cashier. Introducing your kids to sales with reduced pricing will help them learn what to look for during future shopping endeavors.
2. Start small savings with "found" jars.
Turn that "find a penny, pick it up" rhyme into a savings game for young children. Give them several mason jars and tape a coin into the front so that when they find pennies or dimes, they can match, sort, and count them later.
3. Encourage kids to save half of any gift money.
Anytime your child receives gift money, encourage them to save half of it, and then let them spend the other half on things they want. This will help kids learn the importance of finding balance between saving and spending.
4. Take them on their first trip to the bank.
Take your children to the bank and explain to them how the bank works, helping them earn interest while keeping money safe. Let them make a deposit with a few dollars or coins they’ve saved up.
5. Use math riddles to teach them the value of coins.
Riddle them by asking if they'd rather have 5 pennies or 1 quarter. This way you can teach them the value of coins while showing that having more coins doesn't necessarily mean you have more money. Do this in several different combinations as they advance.
6. Turn coupon clipping into a coordination and learning experience.
With safety scissors, let them help you clip coupons. This helps improve their coordination as they cut along the lines, and it gives you the opportunity to explain what coupons do and where you’ll use them.
7. Turn coupons and circulars into a matching game.
Make a matching game of coupons and weekly circulars. Let them cut out the coupons and then match the coupon to the item on the flyer.
8. Let them gain "on-the-job" training with lemonade stands.
This is the perfect age for running their first lemonade stand. You can expand their learning to include charitable giving by offering customers a free glass with a canned good donation.
9. Make goals visual with a savings chart.
Once your child has identified that they want to save for a toy or game, you can print or draw a chart for them to color in as they save. This gives them visual proof of how much they've saved or how much more they need to save.
10. Introduce gameplay that mimics real life.
Money-based games like "Life" or "Mall Madness" utilize faux credit cards that get loaded up on pay dates and debited as they spend throughout the game play. Explaining the pros and cons to spending choices in these games can make learning financial responsibility fun.
11. Help them see the savings in action at the grocery store.
Show the difference in cost between similar choices, such as sale and coupon items versus regularly-priced items or brand name versus generic. Even young kids can easily understand that you could buy two items for the same price as a more expensive option.
If they're old enough, encourage the kids to practice their math skills to figure out real-life word problems. How much are you saving on a deal? What is the cost per item? Which item is healthier (has less sugar or sodium)?
12. Use FamZoo, a virtual bank app that lets kids and parents manage funds.
FamZoo is a free, private, online virtual family "banking" system designed to help you teach your kids to earn, save, spend, and give money wisely. You can manage your kids' funds in either IOU accounts and/or prepaid card accounts. Your kids sign in separately to access their own accounts, while you have control through an online dashboard. You can set up any combo of automated allowances, rewards for chores or odd jobs, "payroll" withholding for saving or giving, penalties for missed work, expense sharing, matching contributions, budgets, loans, and much more.
13. Make pre-teens aware of household finances.
Most pre-teens are able to understand the basics of finance and that every house operates on a budget. Teach them how families can save by turning off lights, not running water excessively, and not wasting food so they can feel part of the savings process too. Saving towards a family goal, like a vacation, is a great incentive to get children involved.
14. Use school clothes shopping to teach savings through good sales.
Tell your teens what their shopping budget is, and let them go through sales flyers to find the best deals. Teach them the significance of sales and shopping at non-trendy stores. Ask them if they'd rather have 6 pairs of regular style jeans or 2 pairs of fancier, higher-end brand names. With sales, consignment or thrift shops, warehouse stores, and group couponing sites, you can receive many times the value of your budget.
This is a good chance to talk about quality of items as well. A $5 shirt might seem like a real bargain until you have to replace it in two washes when it falls apart.
15. Turn their future car dreams into a savings lesson.
When your young teen is beginning to get excited for a driver's license in a few years, it's the perfect opportunity to introduce how they need to save for big purchases like a car and discuss how they plan to save. As an added incentive, talk to them about how bigger insurance companies like Nationwide offer discounts for good grades.
16. Help them make their money stretch.
Offer to help your kids find sales, coupons, consignments, Craigslist ads, or other more reasonable options for the things on their wish lists. Encourage them to keep open minds. For example, if they want a tablet, does it have to be an iPad? How about a refurbished model for at least 15% less? What about other brands? Help your kids understand that the brand name is less important than the features and value offered.
17. Show teens how to budget their part-time or summer job earnings.
As teens begin working part-time or with summer jobs, introduce budgeting so they're not spending every dollar frivolously. Make sure they learn the importance of setting aside parts of their paychecks for designated needs like gas for getting back and forth to work but also for insurance, tires, maintenance, and "unexpected emergencies."
18. Promote real life responsibility with monthly bills.
Increase kids’ allowances, and issue them "bills" per month that must be paid with a due date—like their cell phones, their portion of the Internet service, or gaming subscriptions—or face paying a small "late fee." Yes, it will seem you're shelling out extra in allowances, but it's actually coming right back to you while teaching valuable lessons on how to save by paying by the due dates so that late fees aren't incurred.
Your Turn: We’d love to hear how you teach your kids about saving money! Comment below.