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Investing for the Future: How to Encourage Kids to Think Long-Term with Money

Updated: Jan 27

As an educator in personal finance, I understand how crucial it is to instill financial literacy in our young ones. This blog will delve into the world of savings and investments for kids, offering you, the parents, practical advice and creative ways to engage your children in the art of managing money.


Table of Contents


teaching kids about investing

Understanding the Basics of Money

Grasping the basics of money is the first crucial step in a child's financial education. It's about more than just numbers and transactions; it's about understanding the value of money and its role in our lives. 

A fundamental concept to introduce here is that money represents time and effort. By understanding that money is earned through work, kids can begin to appreciate its value in terms of the time and effort that goes into earning it. This realization helps them make more informed decisions about saving and spending.

Simple activities, like managing a piggy bank or running a small business such as a lemonade stand, are excellent ways to illustrate these concepts. These activities not only teach them about earning and saving but also about the responsibilities and rewards that come with managing money.

Key Points:

  • Money Equals Time: Teach children that earning money requires time and effort, helping them understand its true value.

  • Earning and Saving: Encourage tasks that allow them to earn money, such as chores or small businesses, to teach them about the relationship between work and reward.

  • Spending Wisely: Guide them in differentiating between needs and wants. This helps them make smarter decisions and understand that without careful planning and saving, achieving their future dreams and goals can be challenging.

It's essential to communicate that a lack of financial understanding can be a significant barrier to achieving their dreams. Whether they aspire to be astronauts, artists, or entrepreneurs, almost every dream has a financial component to it. 

By learning to manage money wisely from a young age, they can set themselves up for a future where financial constraints don't hinder their aspirations. This foundational knowledge empowers them to dream big and equips them with the practical skills to make those dreams a reality.

compound interest is a tool for kids

The Power of Compound Interest

Understanding compound interest is a game-changer in the world of savings and investments, especially for kids. It's often described as the eighth wonder of the world, and for good reason. 

Compound interest is the process by which a sum of money grows exponentially over time, as the interest earned is reinvested to earn more interest. This principle can transform modest savings into substantial sums, given enough time.

To illustrate this concept in a way that resonates with children, use simple, everyday examples or interactive tools. For instance, compare how a single tree can grow and produce more trees over time, similar to how money can grow and multiply through compound interest.

Key Points:

  • Understanding Compound Interest: Explain compound interest by showing how money saved not only earns interest but that the interest earned will also start earning interest over time. This creates a snowball effect, where their money grows faster as time passes.

  • Visualizing Growth: Utilize online calculators, games, or apps that simulate the growth of savings over time through compound interest. These tools can provide a visual and tangible representation of how their savings can grow over years, which can be both exciting and motivating for kids.

Teaching kids about compound interest instills a powerful financial concept early in their lives. It helps them see the potential of saving money regularly and the significant impact it can have on their financial future.

There are two relatively easy ways to teach kids about compounding in real-life; either through interest payments or investment growth. We have an article covering the pros and cons of high yield savings accounts and market investment accounts for kids that you can learn more about this through! 

By understanding and appreciating the power of compound interest, kids can be inspired to start saving early, setting themselves up for a more secure and prosperous future. Emphasizing that the earlier they start saving, the more they can benefit from compound interest, can be a strong motivator for them to take action and develop good financial habits from a young age.

savings goals help kids build toward wealth

Setting Financial Goals

Setting financial goals is a vital skill for children to learn, as it teaches them to plan and save for future needs and wants. It's about understanding the importance of setting objectives for their money and working towards them. 

Distinguishing between short-term and long-term goals is a key part of this process, and practical examples can make this distinction clearer and more relevant for kids.

Creating vision boards or goal charts is a great way to make this process tangible and engaging. These visual aids can help children understand and get excited about their financial goals, whether they're saving for something they'll achieve soon or in the far future.

Key Points:

  • Short-term vs. Long-term Goals: Introduce examples of short-term goals like saving for a new toy, a video game, or a special outing. These are goals they can achieve relatively quickly and help them understand immediate gratification. Long-term goals, on the other hand, require more patience and perseverance. Examples include saving for a college fund, a car, or a significant travel experience. These goals might take years to achieve, demonstrating the value of long-term planning and saving.

  • Needs vs. Wants: Teach them to differentiate between necessities (needs) and luxuries (wants). For instance, saving for new school supplies might be a need, whereas saving for the latest smartphone may be classified as a want. This distinction helps them prioritize their spending and saving, leading to more informed financial decisions.

By setting both short-term and long-term financial goals, children learn the importance of saving and the discipline required to achieve their objectives. It prepares them for adult life, where financial planning and goal setting are everyday realities. 

Achieving these goals, especially the long-term ones, provides a sense of accomplishment and reinforces the benefits of financial foresight. This practice not only helps them understand the value of money but also instills a sense of responsibility and achievement as they work towards and reach their financial milestones.

child learning about compound interest

Introducing the Concept of Investing

Investing might seem like a complex topic for kids, but when broken down into simpler concepts, it becomes much more accessible and intriguing. It's about teaching them that investing is a way to put their money to work, potentially growing it over time. 

Simplifying investment types such as stocks, bonds, and savings accounts in kid-friendly language can demystify these concepts. Additionally, introducing the idea of risk and reward is crucial to their understanding of how investments work.

Key Points:

  • Basics of Investing: Explain stocks as pieces of a company that people can buy, which may increase in value if the company does well. Bonds can be described as loans to companies or governments, with the promise of being paid back with interest. Savings accounts, though not typically thought of as investments, should be explained as a safer place to keep money, which can earn a small amount of interest over time.

  • Risk and Reward: It's important to teach children that with the potential for higher returns comes higher risk. For instance, stocks might offer higher potential returns but can be more volatile, meaning their value can go up and down. In contrast, savings accounts are safer but offer lower returns. This helps them understand the balance between taking risks and protecting their money.

Introducing kids to the concept of investing lays the foundation for a deeper understanding of how money can grow and the different ways it can be managed to achieve financial goals. By grasping these basics, children can begin to appreciate the value of diversifying their savings and the importance of making informed decisions when it comes to managing their finances. 

This early exposure to the world of investing not only prepares them for more complex financial decisions in the future but also encourages a mindset of growth and long-term planning. For a deeper dive into teaching your kids about investing, check out our article on saving and investing for kids!

investing made easy for kids

Practical Ways to Start Investing

Introducing practical ways for kids to start investing is an essential step in fostering financial savvy from a young age. There are various age-appropriate investment options that can serve as an excellent introduction to the world of finance. 

Beyond the basic savings account, there are other methods to engage kids in the investment process, each tailored to their understanding and age. Involving children in family financial activities can also provide valuable hands-on experience and a deeper understanding of managing money.

Key Points:

  • Age-appropriate Investment Options: For younger children, starting with a savings account is a great way to teach them about earning interest on their money. As they grow older, introducing more advanced concepts like educational savings accounts (e.g., 529 plans in the U.S.) or even safe stocks and bonds can be beneficial. These options can show them how investments can grow over time. For teenagers, exploring concepts like retirement savings accounts (like Roth IRAs for minors, if available) can introduce them to long-term savings strategies.

  • Family Financial Activities: Engage kids in budgeting for family events, like vacations or holiday spending. This not only teaches them about planning and saving for specific goals but also about making choices and trade-offs. For example, involving them in the process of saving for a family trip can teach them how foregoing small purchases now can lead to a more significant reward later. Another activity could be discussing investment choices for family savings, like picking a charity for a small donation or deciding on a safe investment for a family emergency fund.

These practical experiences not only educate children about different aspects of investing but also instill a sense of responsibility and understanding of the value of money. By starting small and gradually introducing more complex investment concepts, children can build a solid foundation of financial knowledge. 

This hands-on approach not only makes learning about finance more engaging but also prepares them for real-life financial decisions in the future. It empowers them to make informed choices and develops a mindset that appreciates the importance of planning and saving for the future.


Educating kids about savings and investments is not just about teaching them the value of money; it's about equipping them with the skills to make informed financial decisions throughout their lives. 

Start these conversations early, make them engaging, and be consistent in your approach. The aim is to lay a strong foundation for their financial independence and success.

I encourage you to start a dialogue with your children about money. Share your experiences, ask questions, and let us know how it goes in the comments below. Together, we can build a community that values and supports financial education for our future generations.


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