Kids and Cash: 7 Simple Money Concepts To Teach Kids

Thu, 29 Dec 2011

Recently I stopped to get a snack at a local fast food place. The teen-ager waiting on me was new and was being shadowed by the manager.  As I handed him a ten dollar bill for my $5.52 meal, the manager showed him how to make change…“He gets $4.48 back…coins first…forty eight, 1 Quarter, 2 Dimes, and 3 Pennies…sixbills nextseven, eight, nine, ten.” In this world of credit, debit, and gift cards, technology does most of the work for us. The days of counting back cash the old fashioned way seem to be fleeting, but teaching your kids how to handle it shouldn’t be.


I Get Money, Money I Got…

Maybe I’m a Scrooge. A couple Christmases ago, my daughter asked for Monopoly®, not the one I grew up with but


The Electronic Banking Edition…really Monopoly® …credit cards?! Was I being mean when I told her no? We already have the classic game, and she needs to stay sharp counting and handling money. I’ve taught my kids how to handle money from and early age. They keep their birthday, Christmas and gift money in a wallet.  When we go to the mall or museum gift shop, they use their own money and go to the register to buy what they want. I think it’s important for them to calculate what bills and coins they need, and understand the tax.  I’ve taught them to handle the cash and to make sure to get back correct change.


If I Share With You My Story, Will You Share Your Dollar With Me? It’s working. My daughter saved her money for months, refusing to buy earrings, teddy bears, and trinkets during our travels.  Last summer, she asked me to take her to the mall. “What are you shopping for?” I asked.  “I’m going to buy an iPod Touch”. ®  “Really?” I said, “They’re expensive, you have enough money for that?” “Yes” she said “I saved all year!” We got to the store., She went straight to the electronics section, then the register,  iPod Touch® and a pink case in hand, two fifties, and five twenties in her wallet. Total, $236.73 with tax. “Daddy…do you have two twenties? I only have $200 with my birthday and Christmas money!” Of course she got them…and kept the $3.27 change…I’m not really a Scrooge!


Teach the Student What Needs to be Taught… In these days of swiping plastic, it seems the skills of counting and managing money are being lost.  If you haven’t already, teach your children how to earn, save and spend responsibly. Don’t be afraid to let them make their own mistakes. (Perhaps I could have told my daughter to put back the pink case that put her over budget.) Encourage them to save for something they really want, and help them make a plan for how to purchase it. Those experiences can help make trips to the mall even more memorable.


Here are 7 Simple Money Concepts to Teach Your Kids:

1) Encourage your kids to earn their own money by doing chores, odd jobs, or getting a paper route. Not only will this teach them responsibility, but they will be more careful with their money because they understand how much effort it took to get it.

2) Teach them how to save their own money.  Help them open up their own savings account and watch their money grow.

3) Teach them how to budget for things they want.

4) Let them spend their money on something they want. They will feel proud from earning and saving it, and now the fun part, spending it.  

5) Show them how to count back change. Tell them if the computers are ever down, there may be a time that the change button wont work, and you don’t want to be shorted by accident.

6) Let them make their own mistakes.  Life is best learned by our own mistakes, and if you don’t let them make any, then they’ll miss out on some valuable lessons.

7) Use online games to simulate the experience. Practice makes perfect, so let them practice with some fun games to get the hang of it.

Here’s some to try: is a third party link. Please review the third party content guidelines by clicking here for more details. is a third party link. Please review the third party content guidelines by clicking here for more details. This is a third party link. Please review the third party content guidelines by clicking here for more details.


In the days of technology, it’s still important to learn the basics. Just like its important to learn how to spell even though there’s spell check, your kids need to learn how to handle money. What lessons have you taught your kids or advice can you share?