Does the thought of teaching money skills make you nervous? Here’s how to do it!
Kids need to understand the basics of money management to help guide their future decisions. Financial literacy is very important throughout adulthood but is often left out of most educational curriculum.
An advantage of homeschooling is the ability to customize curriculum and managing money is definitely an essential life skill topic!
A high school course in economics does not provide enough in-depth understanding of finances. Many personal finance concepts and activities incorporate math, research, and critical thinking. These are all valuable skills that will help kids navigate real-world experiences.
These key practical money skills can be integrated into simple lessons for young learners and become more complex for older students.
Money Skills Kids Need to Learn
1. Earning an Income
Kids need to understand at a basic level that money is earned in exchange for time, talents, or services.
Young children could learn this concept by setting up the classic lemonade stand or by offering a service such as pet sitting. Older students could sell a hand-made craft or work a part-time job.
Homeschoolers may also associate income with earning money for completing certain chores or other jobs at home.
Middle and high school students could benefit from conversations about earning potential for jobs that are based on their interests and goals. This is a time to discuss college planning as well. The Internet can provide information on many different salaries to give older students real numbers to consider.
2. Healthy Savings Habits
One of the simplest ways to teach about savings is for a child to set a goal for something they want to buy. It’s helpful to guide younger children towards less expensive items so they can achieve their goals in a reasonable time and feel that sense of accomplishment pretty quickly.
Younger children can start saving their money with a piggy bank or money jar. A savings goal printable for children can also be a great visual for them to track their progress towards meeting a savings goal.
Older children could be involved in the process of opening a real savings account and learning about the benefits of long-term savings.
Students who start to save money at a young age are practicing a healthy financial habit that will help them later in life in times of unexpected emergencies.
3. Healthy Spending Habits
Kids typically have the spending skill mastered quickly! They see that spending results in getting something they want. This doesn’t change into adulthood but it can lead to unhealthy spending that creates massive debt. It’s important for kids to learn about making wise spending choices at an early age.
A great way to teach students of all ages about smart spending is to involve them in the process of a purchase. They could be included in the process of researching, reading reviews, and price comparison shopping before making a purchase decision.
There are many opportunities for real-life practice with spending wisely from trips to the grocery store to using their own money for planned purchases. Our kids will be learning from our actions and it’s beneficial for them to hear about our experiences as a result of good and bad spending decisions.
Healthy spending also lends itself to the discussion and practice of giving to others in the form of time, gifts, or donations.
4. Investing to Build Wealth
Investing is buying an asset that has the potential to increase in value. It could lead to huge financial gains but is also riskier than savings. This topic has multiple meanings that can be adapted for age-appropriate lessons.
In the scenario of the lemonade stand, there is an investment of money for supplies and time for set up to (hopefully) see a positive return on that investment later. Students can learn just as much from investments that don’t result in a positive outcome!
Middle and high school students can grasp the concept of compound interest by reviewing charts that show the impact of how money invested can grow over time. Older students could do a research project on a fictional business and identify the potential risks and rewards.
Kids need real-life experience with budgeting. They can be taught that a budget is like a map that guides how we spend our money. We need the map to stay on the right path and avoid wrong turns.
Discussing how a budget works also leads to discussing needs and wants. Even young kids can understand that basic needs have to be prioritized in the budget.
Younger kids could learn the basics of budgeting by using play money and toys labeled with price tags to “spend” on items according to their budget.
Older students could create an actual budget based on something they want to buy or do.
It’s very important for kids to understand that borrowing from a bank or credit card is very different from borrowing from parents or a sibling!
They need to know that money borrowed comes with fees and becomes a debt that must be repaid according to terms.
Our kids live in a world where they likely see a credit card being swiped more than the exchange of paper money. It’s critical to teach the parts of the process that they often don’t see… the bill that comes and must be paid on time!
Older students who are preparing for the transition to college should consider the impact of student loan debt on their financial future.
Many children get their first lesson about taxes when they have a dollar to spend at a dollar store and find out that it takes more than that to make their purchase.
Taxes are an inevitable part of navigating the real world and it’s important to understand how they work.
Younger students could learn about taxes on products while older students could learn about the different kinds of taxes.
While there are quality personal finance books, worksheets, and activities you can add to your homeschool curriculum, many of these practical money skills are best taught with conversation and real-life experiences.
There are also games like Monopoly and Life that provide opportunities to discuss financial decisions.
This foundation of knowledge and skills with money management will help set our homeschoolers up for success with their financial future!