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First Banking Lesson- What Is Money?

Do your kids hold up a card or a penny hoping to pay for groceries? While this is a super cute gesture, it might be time to introduce the concept of money and working. Our credit counseling belief is that kids are never too young to start learning about finance. Here are some tips on a child’s first banking lesson: explaining how money works.

ACCC has tips for the first banking lesson!

ACCC has tips for the first banking lesson!

How to Teach Their First Banking Lesson

When kids see money come out of the ATM or see their parents swipe their credit card, they may not realize where money comes from. It’s important to teach them what money is and that it has to be earned by working.

What Is Money?

Money is a type of currency. It’s an exchange. You can help teach their first lesson about money by trading one object for another. Then, you can play store to give it more context. Finally, you can go out into the world and reinforce what you learned at home. Try to pay in cash to let the concept of an exchange sink in deeper rather than using a card (also, don’t forget to check out our other money lessons for kids to teach them more concepts). 

If your child is older, you can discuss money has different values. There is a set value for each piece of currency. Here are a few more key concepts you can focus on:

  • MONEY is exchanged for goods and services.
  • BUYING something means exchanging money for it.
  • The amount of money needed to buy something is called its PRICE.
  • Different goods and services have different prices.
  • Some things are FREE – they don’t cost money.
  • If you don’t have enough money to buy something you can either save up to buy it another time or buy something else.

How Do You Get Money?

Money has to be earned or given. They probably already experienced receiving money as a gift. Now, it’s time to teach them about earning money. Help them set up a bank account for saving, and make them work for their money. Give them a chore chart and an allowance for successfully completing their jobs. However, it’s important to delineate between their obligations as a member of the household, and chores that will help them earn allowances. It’s okay to expect your child to clean up after himself or herself, and to contribute to the household responsibilities without “pay.”

If you’re struggling to pay off debt, sign up for a free credit counseling session today.


Michelle is a regular contributor to Talking Cents. She has taken several financial courses on debt management and is ready to circulate what she has learned from them as well as lessons from her own life- family to DIY projects to student loan debt.

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