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Youth And Money Basics

Kids don’t always understand the importance of money. Many school don’t teach personal finance. While they learn that money exists and a plastic card does more or less all the transactions there is no structured system to teach kids about money. The important thing adults need to understand is the fact that it’s never too early to teach kids about money. So what does it mean to have access to knowledge about youth and money basics? As a nonprofit credit counseling agency, ACCC is here to share some insights.

It is up to parents to talk to their kids about credit, budgeting, and other aspects of financial literacy. What is the right time to start having this conversation with kids? How should it take place? Are there any specific ways that can help us, adults, to understand youth and money basics? The more crucial point is that the sooner parents begin talking with their children about money, the more likely their kids are to develop smart money-management habits. If you are aware of these basics from a young age, bigger challenges such as consumer credit and debt management are much easier to tackle in the future.

Youth and money basics are the foundation to financial savviness.

Youth and money basics are the foundation to financial savviness.

Youth and Money Basics – Two Aspects:

When it comes to youth and money basics the approach to this broader area is basically two-prone.

  1.  As an adult/parent, how should you talk to your kids about money?
  2. What can kids do to understand the basic youth and money concepts?

This article focuses on the first aspect.

Youth & Money Basics – Concepts for Parents:

Building good money habits early on will help kids better manage their finances in the future. This helps set them up for more secure adulthood. The approach you have to take may vary depending on how old your kids are.

The work must always be collective. You must always ensure they are a part of this learning curve from day one. The first step can be to have your kids make a list of five things they need. You can then ask them to rank them in order of priority to them. Then sit with your kids to put a price on their list. You can make this a fun experience by creating a guessing game. Once you come up with the list with a number associated, it will help them understand the concept of value.

Given that many kids see their parents do online transactions or using their phone or a credit card to pay the seeing physical use of cash is minimal. This can be a hindrance to understanding the value concept for a child. This is why the above exercise can help kids to understand the value of things in a much deeper sense.

For older kids, it will open their eyes and help them make smarter choices when spending their own money earned or received.  Stress the importance of setting a goal with savings, like saving for a new doll, DVD, or video game. Before online banking and savings accounts were an in-thing our parents used to buy us a piggy bank. To shake and hear the clatter of the coins was an utter delight. This however is still a viable option to teach kids certain basic concepts such as creating a rainy day budget and emergency funds.

ACCC developed a breakdown of how you could approach financial education for kids by age group. Let’s see what concepts make the most sense.

Age Group: K-2

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

How: 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.”

Age Group 3-6

What to teach: Everyone has a limited amount of money they can use to buy things they need or want. This is why it’s important to make smart choices about how to spend money. Saving is one of the best things you can do with your money.

How: Have your kids make a list of five things they need and then have them rank them in order of importance. Then have them do the same for things they want. Next, assess their lists and put in an estimated cost for each item. This will open their eyes and help them make smarter choices when spending their own money earned or received Stress the importance of setting a goal with savings, like saving for a new doll, DVD, or video game.

Age Group:  7-12

What to teach: Understanding credit cards and how they work can be confusing. It’s important that kids understand that credit is not free money. Continue focusing on saving for the future, especially before college.

How: For kids under 18, have them practice using credit by borrowing money from parents. Set up a credit limit, repayment terms, and a standard interest rate to familiarize them with these concepts. If they miss a payment, don’t hesitate to charge a small late fee. This will help teach them the cost of credit and the habit of paying on time. It will also help them learn the basics of credit before mistakes can harm their credit report and score.

For Tweens and Teens

By this age, kids need some cash in their hands. So you can introduce a job to them. Some possible opportunities are listed below. Remember, all of these can work better if you identify your child’s maturity first.

  • Babysitting –Depending on your child’s age and maturity, kids can earn anywhere from $5-$10 an hour for one child and an additional $1-$3 for more than one child.
  • Recreational activities/tutoring lessons – Is your middle schooler or teen excellent at a certain activity or subject in particular? They can work as a tutor or athletic coach for a younger kid, whether helping with reading skills or athletic technique. Paper Route – A classic way for responsible kids to make money, there’s always a paper route. All a kid needs is a bicycle and an alarm clock. However, be sure to check local labor laws – many states have minimum age requirements for newspaper delivery.

For All Ages

  • Allowance – This is a great tool to give your children an incentive to help out around the house. In exchange for a few chores, award your children a few dollars a week. As they get older, they can take on more difficult chores, like laundry or heavy cleaning. More difficult chores, like lawn maintenance or snow removal, can command a heftier dollar amount if you choose.
  • Recycling – Can returns maybe only five cents a can, but those can add up quickly. It requires hard work and effort, but it shows kids the value of keeping the earth green and persistence.
  • Lawn care – A great way to help out a neighbor and to earn some extra cash is to offer services like raking, lawn-mowing, or weeding. In the wintertime, they can shovel snow.
  • Pet sitting – When neighbors go away over the summer, they’ll need someone to feed their fish or cat. It’s a good way to show children the responsibilities associated with pets, as well as help them understand the value of an earned dollar.
  • Sell lemonade or baked goods – Give your kids a small loan for supplies (with the understanding that you’ll get paid back before they make a profit for themselves) and help them set up a lemonade stand or baked good stand. They’ll learn the business of selling and communicating with potential customers. Be sure to supervise all sales transactions and any interactions.

Youth and Money Basics – Conclusion:

The important thing to remember is that you identify the level of knowledge of your child. Using age-appropriate strategies to educate your children is the best approach. While you give all this information to your children you must also lead by example. Kids are like sponges and they easily absorb what they see and hear, Therefore, your money-related behaviors are what will set an example to manage finances successfully in the future. Setting up for a solid financial future begins with a good understanding of the concepts relating to youth and money basics.

If you are struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Sign up for a free credit counseling session with us today! 


Dilini is a Marketing Communications & Programs Associate at ACCC. To anyone, managing finances can be a real challenge! Any tips and tricks to help get through this are great! Dilini will share her experiences, tips, and tricks along the way through the Talking Cents blog. Stay tuned!

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