Thrive in 2025: Raise a Money-Smart Kid

The Lesson: Keep your money for special things.

Explain saving along these lines: "Every month, I set aside money for stuff we'd like to have or do in the future. Eventually we'll be able to buy a new car or go on vacation." Then help your child develop his own saving goals. Avoid steering him toward something long-term (like putting away money for college). "At 6, he can't be expected to wait longer than a month to get what he wants," says Karyn Hodgens, author of Raised for Richness.

Read stories about money.

Finance-themed books can engage and inform your child. Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday shows how easily a dollar can slip through your fingers. In The Berenstain Bears' Trouble With Money, Brother and Sister Bear find the middle ground between being spendthrifts and misers. You can also try Sluggers' Car Wash, in which the players raise money together to buy team T-shirts.

Track her savings together.

Storing coins in a jar is fine, but your child can chart her progress far more easily if you print out a coin sheet under "free resources" at kidnexions.com, a financial-tools site. Then you can have her color in every coin she collects until she reaches her goal of, say, $5.

Play online games.

Practicalmoneyskills.com, Visa's financial-literacy website, has a host of free activities to boost coin recognition and other money skills (ages 5 and up). Also visit thegreatpiggybankadventure.com, where kids direct "truffles" to their piggy bank, saving until they meet their goal (ages 8 and up); and orangekids.com, where they earn and invest pretend money during an out-of-this-world trip to Planet Orange (ages 6 and up).

Fun resources for teaching kids spending skills:

 

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