As a parent, I’ve gotten excited about my kids’ developmental milestones, like their first steps and first day of kindergarten. And like most parents, I try to support my kids’ growth when it comes to my children’s physical, intellectual, and character development. In this post, I want to pay attention to the money milestones that kids also work on. In particular, I want to discuss a great resource called Money As You Grow that’s helped me support my kids in their learning.
Why it’s important for kids to learn about money
The team that developed Money As You Grow believe that children’s financial well-being as adults is strongly tied to how they develop key abilities and attributes when they’re young. They also assume that kids absorb money lessons from watching their parents and caregivers earn, spend, save, and borrow. From their perspective, it’s never too early — or too late — to talk to your kid about money. Regardless of where your child is at in their development, you can adapt the conversation to meet them there.
As a parent and as part of the Goodbudget team, I generally agree with the fundamentals of their approach. I’d also add that it’s not only important to talk to kids about the nuts and bolts of money management skills, but also about how our money choices connect to what’s important to us. Beyond learning to be smart consumers, I hope that my children can also be generous people who make choices based on their values.
What to expect
With this resource, you can see age-appropriate money milestones for your child, and you can also pick and choose practical activity ideas and conversation starters. These resources are made for kids of all ages, helping you keep your kids on track whether they’re preschoolers, high schoolers or even young adults.
There are great ideas for young children (ages 3-5), school-age children to preteens (6-12), and teens to young adults (13 and up). For each age group, you can expect to see specific developmental milestones that outline the skills, habits, and attitudes that kids are working on at each stage. You’ll also find materials that cover foundational money topics like earning, saving, planning, shopping, borrowing, and protecting their finances in age-appropriate ways. Unfortunately, they don’t talk much about giving and generosity, which is also an important building block for kids. If this is important to you and your family, look for opportunities to discuss and practice generosity too.
How to use the resource for yourself and your kids
You don’t have to be a money master to support your kids, and there’s no need to read the whole website either. Just skip to your kid’s age and see what interests you there. You might start by choosing a single topic that’s relevant to your family right now, and then try one conversation starter or activity idea. If it flops, no worries. You can always try something else or come back to it later. The important thing is to keep your kids’ money learning in mind as they continue to grow up. As you keep the conversation open with your kid, you can always revisit this resource as new money topics come up in your lives.
What I tried and learned as a parent
One of the big things I learned from this resource was that the skills my kids worked on in their preschool years are also relevant to their financial well being later in life. For example, as my little ones learned that focus and persistence are necessary to accomplish certain tasks, they were also building skills that will help them with setting money goals, planning financially, saving for the future, and sticking to a budget. I hadn’t made that connection when I was watching how they learned to work through their frustrations while building a LEGO creation, or when they started to (finally!) need fewer reminders to stay focused on cleaning up their toys before dinner.
In our family, we’ve tried creating jars for spending, saving, and giving. This has dovetailed nicely into having the kids plan and make their own choices about how they want to use money. So when they ask themselves, “Should I get a watch for myself, or a stuffed animal as a gift for someone else?” they’ve already developed some shopping skills, like comparing prices online, so that they can find a watch or toy that matches what they’re looking for.
Which activity idea or conversation starter do you want to try?