5 Ways to Make Finance Fun for Kids
As if managing your own finances wasn’t hard enough, being a parent brings the extra responsibility to teach your kids about money. Overwhelming? No way! Here are 5 ways to make it fun.
1. Weekly stock picking together
Buying stocks & funds with your kids each week through an online broker is an affordable way to create extraordinary savings and educate them.
Set up small, automatic deposits so you can afford to keep going and create a long term investing mindset. Buy small, buy often — don’t sell. Weekly we invest $20 each for me, Missy-8 and Fella-5.
Picking stocks and funds together with your kids is great fun and will create memorable teaching moments. Our portfolio includes household names bought for crazy reasons, often for the best returns:
“Buy Apple because I want an iPhone,” says Missy-8. “Buy Netflix, I like the cartoons!” yells Fella-5.
In two years of regular investing we’ve built up a portfolio worth thousands with a 28% return. Enough for a cheap car today but by the time they’re 18 it might pay for college, a holiday or the deposit on a property. Maybe it’ll create a life-long habit leading to financial freedom, enabling the pursuit of their dreams and perhaps my retirement!
Along the way, we’re learning together how & why to choose an investment, what the returns are, all about big companies, and why investing is much better than saving money in the bank over the long haul.
2. Spend pocket money stupidly
While it might seem odd to encourage your kid to spend their money it satiates their desire to spend and teaches them the value of money at the same time.
Our kids get $2 pocket money a week each. It’s theirs to spend on anything no matter how frivolous it might seem. No rules, no judgment, but no nagging or moaning if they can’t afford what they want or get buyers' remorse. They’re safe to make financial mistakes and learn.
When we go out shopping we only let our kids spend up to half their pocket money in one go so there’s always some left. The longer they wait the better toy they can buy next time.
Besides this, they only get toys for birthdays and Christmas from us. No use begging for the latest thing their friends have. They know that if you want it, you save for it, you buy it. No arguments.
3. Play Monopoly — seriously!
We all know you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Learning math has never been easier or more fun than by playing Monopoly.
Sure, there’ll be plenty of tears and tantrums in the beginning but trust me, it’s worth it. Missy-8 and I played games daily for months during lock-down. It transformed from hours of tedious torment to 20 action-packed minutes of high stakes strategy and chance. Missy-8 now knows the price of every property on the board, the base rents, and can quickly calculate correct change for any cash I give her.
Have your kid be the banker and watch some videos on YouTube together about Monopoly strategy after a few games. Watch as they learn the strategies, then despair as you launch a counter-strategy, only to delight as they surprise you with a new trick of their own.
Best of all they’re learning an important fundamental: Buy property.
4. Make em earn it
It’s easy to forget to give your kids pocket money unless they ask for it and no good for them to think money is free. Got a chore you hate? That’s what pocket money is for!
Initially, it was an effort for me to remember pocket money and make sure I had correct change. I made it their responsibility to ask me for it and to my amazement, they quickly forgot too.
Enter nature's reminder.
I hate doing the trash. We live down a long steep right-of-way and it’s boring wheeling the bins up and back. The solution: I take them up and the kids bring ‘em back. That’s how they earn their $2 a week. It’s easy. Each week on our way home from school I let them out at the top and they bring in the bins.
This has created curiosity about other ways they could earn money. The next holidays are shaping up to be a bumper time for young enterprise in our house.
5. Create trade-offs
Having money creates choices. Spend or save, dollar store or the mall. Learning you can only spend the same dollar once creates an opportunity for reflection.
While there’s no rules or judgment about how Missy-8 and Fella-5 spend their cash I enjoy asking curly questions along the way.
When Missy-8 wanted McDonald's for breakfast I was blown away. It was the first time they had asked to spend their own money on eating out. She gave me her order. I asked her how she expected to get it since the nearest store is about a 3-mile drive. I explained how UberEats works. Oh no, that’s much too expensive so I was instructed to go pick it up instead.
Since I don’t drive for free I negotiated my own breakfast into the equation. I pointed out that since Mummy was here it would be rude not to include her. After Fella-5 piped up and said he wanted McDonald’s too there was some tense negotiation and after which he agreed to chip in a few bucks we had a deal. Next, I estimated the bill and asked her what else she could buy with the money instead.
It was a close call between the Mall and McDonald’s but after careful consideration, Missy-8 chose to feed the family and bask in the glory of buying her whole family breakfast. It just might have been the proudest moment of her life.
Empowering your kids by embracing money matters can be fun and rewarding, stimulating conversations, ideas, and creating teaching opportunities that bring you closer together. Perhaps one day my kids will be so smart with their money my wife and I can retire.