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Teaching Kids About Savings and Investments: From Piggy Banks to the Stock Market

Updated: Jan 21

Laying the Foundation for Money Management for Kids

Hey there, parents! As someone who's spent years helping families navigate the world of personal finance, I've seen firsthand how crucial it is to teach our kids about money. But where do you start? Well, from piggy banks all the way to the stock market, I've got some tips and tricks to make teaching your kids about savings and investments not only educational but also fun.

Why Teach Kids About Money?

  • Empowerment: Understanding money gives kids confidence and a sense of independence.

  • Life Skills: Money management is a crucial life skill that everyone needs.

  • Future Success: Early financial education sets the stage for future financial success.


Table of Contents


family working together to understand money management

Money 101 – Making Sense of Cents and Dollars

Let's dive right into the heart of money management for kids with some basic yet essential concepts: earning, saving, and spending. These are the cornerstones of financial literacy and understanding them is crucial for kids of all ages. To start, we can help children grasp the idea of money by relating it to their daily lives. For instance, when you go grocery shopping, involve them in the process. Explain how items have different costs and how you decide what to buy within a budget. This not only teaches them about the value of money but also the importance of making choices based on what you can afford.

In addition to practical experiences, playing games can be an incredibly effective teaching tool. Games involving money, such as Monopoly or various online educational games, can introduce concepts like earning money through jobs, paying expenses, and managing their cash flow. For younger children, starting with a piggy bank is a fantastic way to visualize savings. Each coin they drop in is a small step towards understanding the power of saving over time. The key is to make these lessons as interactive and engaging as possible, turning abstract concepts into tangible, understandable ideas. Remember, the goal is to ignite their curiosity about money and build a strong foundation for more complex topics in the future.

Teaching the Concept of Money

  • Use Real-Life Examples: Grocery shopping can be a great learning opportunity.

  • Play Games Involving Money: Board games like Monopoly or online money games.

  • Start with a Piggy Bank: It’s a classic for a reason!

parent and child learning about saving money

Saving Smarts – Encouraging Your Little Saver

Saving is a vital skill in money management for kids, and it's much more than just hoarding coins in a jar. It's about teaching them the art of setting goals and the value of patience and hard work in achieving those goals. Begin by helping your child set a realistic savings goal – it could be a toy they've been eyeing, a book, or even a small donation to a cause they care about. This makes the concept of saving more tangible and goal-oriented. Discuss with them how much they need to save, how long it might take, and brainstorm ways they could add to their savings, whether through allowances, doing extra chores, or saving gift money.

To keep their motivation high, create a visual representation of their savings goal. This could be a chart that they fill in or a transparent savings jar where they can see their money grow. Celebrate the small milestones along the way to keep their spirits high. For instance, once they reach the halfway point, you could acknowledge their effort with a small reward or a special activity. This reinforces the positive aspects of saving. Additionally, consider implementing a matching system where you contribute a certain amount for every dollar they save. This not only boosts their savings but also teaches them about concepts like company matching in retirement accounts, laying the groundwork for more advanced financial lessons in the future. In these ways, saving becomes a fun and rewarding journey, teaching them valuable life lessons along the way. You can also check out our deep dive article into teaching kids to set savings goals to learn more!

Making Saving Fun

  • Set Clear Goals: Help them save for something they really want.

  • Visible Progress: Use a chart or a clear jar to show how their savings grow.

  • Match Their Contributions: Encourage their efforts by matching what they save (plus this mimics an employer match into a retirement account!).

piggy bank with leaves representing growing money

Interest – Making Money Grow

Understanding interest is like unlocking a secret level in the game of money management for kids. It's where they learn how their savings can actually earn more money over time, almost like magic. This concept might seem complex at first, but it can be quite fascinating for kids when explained in a fun and relatable way. You can start by comparing interest to something they already understand, like planting a seed. Just as a seed needs soil, water, and time to grow into a plant, their saved money, when put in a bank, grows over time thanks to interest.

To make this more tangible, consider taking your child to open their first savings account. Many banks offer accounts specifically designed for children, where they can earn interest on their savings. Explain how the bank pays them a small percentage for keeping their money there, which is their money 'earning' more money. You could also show them how their balance increases over time on a bank statement, illustrating the concept of compounding interest – where they earn interest on their interest. This is a fundamental concept in financial growth and an excellent way to teach them about the long-term benefits of saving. Additionally, use simple math examples to show how different interest rates affect how much money grows. The key is to keep the explanation straightforward and engaging, turning the seemingly complex world of interest into an exciting opportunity for their savings to flourish.

Simplifying Interest for Kids

  • Bank Visits: Turn a trip to the bank into a learning experience.

  • Open a Kids’ Savings Account: Many banks offer accounts specifically for kids.

  • Use Simple Examples: Compare interest to growing a plant - it takes time and care.

Investing – Planting the Money Seeds

When it comes to money management for kids, introducing the concept of investing is like opening a door to a whole new world of financial possibilities. It’s about teaching them how to make their money work for them, rather than just saving it. This concept can sound intimidating, but it’s actually quite engaging when broken down into simpler terms. Start by explaining that investing is like planting a seed – you put money into something that can grow over time, just like a seed grows into a tree.

To make investing relatable to kids, use examples from their world. For instance, if they like video games, explain how investing in a company is like buying a small part of it, and as the company grows, so does the value of their ‘part’. Discuss different types of investments like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds in basic terms. For example, stocks are like owning a piece of a company, bonds are like lending money to a company or government, and mutual funds are a collection of different stocks and bonds. It’s also important to talk about the concept of risk and reward – higher potential returns often come with higher risk.

Introduce them to the idea of diversification, or not putting all their eggs in one basket, by explaining how spreading investments across different types can help reduce risk. You can also discuss long-term goals and the importance of patience in investing. Investments are not about getting rich quick; they are about growing money over time. Use stories or examples of well-known companies to illustrate how investments can grow. Remember, the goal is to demystify investing and show them that it's an accessible and crucial part of growing their financial future.

Explaining Basic Investments

  • Use Familiar Concepts: Compare investing to things they know, like gardening or building a LEGO set.

  • Talk About Diversification: Explain why it’s smart not to put all their eggs in one basket.

  • Discuss Long-term Goals: Investments are for the future – like saving for college.

kids learning about investing and money management

Real World Money Skills – Applying What They’ve Learned

After laying the groundwork with savings and investing basics, it’s time for kids to apply their newfound knowledge to real-world scenarios. This step in money management for kids is all about bringing those concepts to life through practical, hands-on experiences. It’s one thing to understand saving and investing in theory, but it’s a whole new ball game when they start making financial decisions in their daily lives.

Start by getting them involved in family financial planning. This could be as simple as including them in a discussion about the monthly budget, or planning for a family holiday. Show them how you allocate funds for different needs and wants, and how savings and investments play a role in meeting family financial goals. This not only gives them a sense of involvement but also helps them understand the practical application of the concepts they’ve learned.

Another great way to reinforce these lessons is through allowance management. Encourage them to budget their allowance, dividing it into spending, saving, and perhaps even a small portion for investing in a simple stock or mutual fund. For older kids, this can be extended to managing their earnings from part-time jobs. You could also set up scenarios where they have to budget for specific goals, like buying a new game or funding a small project. This helps them understand the value of money and the satisfaction of reaching a goal through planning and discipline.

Encouraging entrepreneurship can also be a valuable lesson. Support them in starting a small venture, like a lemonade stand or selling handmade crafts. This not only teaches them about earning money but also about the costs and planning involved in running a business. These real-world applications of their financial knowledge will empower them, boost their confidence in making money-related decisions, and lay a strong foundation for their future financial independence.

For some more fun ideas on how to apply savings skills, take a look at our article that covers 10 creative ways to teach kids about saving and spending!

Involving Kids in Family Finances

  • Family Budget Meetings: Let them see how you plan the family budget.

  • Practice Budgeting: Give them a budget for their back-to-school shopping.

  • Encourage Entrepreneurship: Support them in starting a small business like a lemonade stand.

child learning about money and lemonade stands

Advanced Money Moves – Preparing for the Future

As kids grow older and their understanding of money management deepens, it's important to introduce them to more advanced financial concepts. Topics like the stock market, retirement savings, and the impact of inflation are not just for adults. Teaching older kids about these aspects prepares them for a financially responsible future and helps demystify what can often seem like a complex financial world.

Exploring the Stock Market

The stock market can be an exhilarating topic for kids, especially when they start understanding its dynamics. Use online stock market games or simulations to teach them how the market works in an interactive and risk-free environment. Explain how buying stocks means buying a small piece of a company and how the value of that piece can change based on how well the company is doing. Discuss the importance of researching companies and understanding market trends, showing them the practical application of math and research skills in finance.

Retirement Savings – A Long-term Vision

It’s never too early to talk about saving for retirement. While retirement might seem like a lifetime away for a teenager, introducing this concept early can instill the habit of long-term financial planning. Explain how starting to save early can significantly impact their financial stability in the future due to the power of compounding interest. You can illustrate this with simple online calculators that show how regular, small contributions to a retirement fund can grow over decades.

Understanding Inflation

Inflation is a critical concept in the financial world, impacting everything from the cost of goods to the value of money saved. Teach them how inflation reduces the purchasing power of money over time and why it’s important to consider when saving and investing. Use simple examples like the rising cost of a favorite snack over the years to illustrate how inflation works in everyday life.

By covering these advanced topics, you're not just teaching your kids about money; you're equipping them with the tools to make informed financial decisions throughout their lives. This education is invaluable, setting them up to be savvy savers, smart investors, and wise financial planners well into their adult years.

Teaching Advanced Financial Concepts

  • Stock Market Games: Use online simulators to teach them about the stock market.

  • Discuss Retirement Savings: It’s never too early to talk about saving for retirement.

  • Inflation and its Effects: Explain how the value of money changes over time.

Conclusion: Building a Financially Savvy Future

So there you have it! Teaching your kids about money doesn't have to be daunting. With a bit of creativity and patience, you can lay the foundation for a lifetime of financial savvy. Remember, the key is to make it engaging and relevant to their world.

Final Thoughts

  • Be Consistent: Regular discussions about money are more effective.

  • Lead by Example: Show them good money habits through your actions.

  • Stay Patient: Learning about money is a process, and each child is different.


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