It’s hard to believe but soon school will be out with kids ready to spend afternoons at the pool or park or hanging out with friends. Thoughts of reading, writing and arithmetic will be replaced with concocting various ways to have fun (or create mischief) instead. Of course, I’ve never believed that fun and learning cannot coexist peacefully together. In fact, my kids embrace money lessons when they are fun and I imagine it is the same in your home. With that in mind, I’m going to share some fun, age-appropriate money activities for your kids to enjoy over summer vacation.
Plan for Money Activities
One complaint I regularly hear from parents is they that struggle to find the time for money lessons and don’t know what to teach them. I understand as we all have very busy lives these days. However, helping your kids build a healthy relationship with money is just as important as teaching kids how to read, write, tie their shoes and say please and thank you. While it does take some planning and effort on your part, it needs to be a priority because the end-result of happy, financially confident kids is worth it.
Sometimes opportunities to talk to your kids about money just fall into your lap, like when Taylor wanted to join me during a shopping trip, and other times you need to plan in advance. To help you start these conversations and lessons, I’ve put together some activities for you.
Money Activities for Ages 3-6
I believe kids as early as 3 years old begin noticing how parents handle money and start forming their own money beliefs and habits based upon what they observe. It’s critical to start with some basic money activities at this age before they develop any money bias to help them build a healthy relationship with money.
Set Family Goals
In the 3-6 age group, I recommend introducing them to money through family save, spend and share goals and the idea that money needs a purpose. Experiencing goal success firsthand will help create excitement for when it is time for them to set their own personal goals (I recommend setting individual goals for children ages 6 and above). We set save, spend and share goals by asking ourselves these 3 questions:
- What will you save for? This is a generally a bigger item — something that excites the whole family, such as a vacation.
- What will you spend your money on right now? This is generally something you can do as a family more frequently — weekly, monthly, quarterly.
- Who will you share your money with? This can difficult for young children to understand, so I recommend starting with something tangible first, such as donating supplies to a local animal shelter. It’s been my experience once children feel the joy of sharing firsthand, they become huge fans of giving.
Be sure you regularly talk about your goals and progress to keep kids engaged and excited. Another bonus of setting family goals is that they also give you the best answer when your kids get the “I wants”.
Money Activities for Ages 6-9
At this age, you can become a bit more tactical as kids really begin embracing money lessons. Why? Because at this age, they also begin to understand the power money wields, so teach them how to use it wisely.
Run a Lemonade Stand
This is a personal favorite in our home. In fact, I wrote a children’s book about it! The girls love selling lemonade as way to earn extra money to support their save, spend and share goals. And we do treat it like a business. We calculate the cost of their business expenses (supplies and food costs) and they pay me first, just as any real business must do, before they divvy up their profit.
The Grocery Store Game
Grocery stores offer many wonderful teachable moments. Invite your kids into the kitchen with you to help plan your weekly meals. Explain how meal planning can minimize waste and help you spend less. Give your kids your weekly grocery budget and have them look for coupons to increase savings. Set aside the saved money and do something fun with it at the end of the month. Now they understand how budgeting, meal planning and comparison shopping can free up more money to do other things.
Money Activities for Ages 9-13
My girls now fall into this group and they particularly love to taking more ownership of their money. I love how confident they are becoming about their money decisions.
Host a Garage Sale
Kids can turn into mini hoarders and struggle to let go of items they no longer use. However, once they learn they can earn cold, hard cash for selling items they don’t use, they become less attached to those things pretty quickly. A couple of ideas:
- Have your kids help you price items, display them attractively, make signs and project earnings. Explain how doing these things can improve sales, which teaches them valuable lessons and decreases complaining. The profits from the garage sale will be used to fund something the family will enjoy together.
- Do the same as above but track items sold, meaning kids will be paid their share of the profits based on the items they sold. Make sure they allocate earnings to their save, spend and share goals.
Bonus Tip: Have your kids sell bottled water or lemonade and snacks like homemade cupcakes, cookies or brownies. Don’t forget to have them pay you first for the supplies.
- Have them take a babysitting course and identify families you know that might be interested in their services. Help them figure out how to market themselves and approach your targeted families.
- Manage their back-to-school shopping budget. This is a great way for kids to familiarize themselves with budgets and learn to enjoy them. Learn more on how the girls managed their back-to-school budgets.
Money Activities for Ages 14-18
Some kids in the age-group will be able to get part-time jobs and be sure that you still have them set goals and allocate earnings. They may choose to put more money towards their spend jar, but you still want them to maintain the habit (and mindset) of sharing and saving their money too. For kids too young to get part-time jobs or prefer to be their own boss, here are a few ideas for them.
Tutor Other Kids in Activities They Excel In
If your children are extremely good at a sport, musical instrument or school subject, have them tutor or coach younger kids, individually or in small groups. You would be surprised by how big of an audience there is for these types of tutors and coaches. Parents are willing to pay generously, especially if your child is known within your community or school for excelling in a specific skill set.
Work with your kids to create a business plan, including the types of services and/or classes they will offer. Determine any costs they might have and need to be considered as they set their prices. Help them figure out how to target kids by creating a marketing plan and work with coaches and teachers to promote your services and identify kids who may benefit from your coaching.
- Start a dog-walking service. Determine your services and cost, then create a marketing plan. Identify neighbors who have dogs and work all-day and how to best market your services to them.
- Manage their clothing budget. Outline the budget, how the money will be dispersed (lump sum, monthly or quarterly) and any basic clothes you will provide (such as a winter coat). Most importantly, let them make mistakes and figure out solutions.
Summer Fun and Money Lessons Do Go Together
Kids deserve some time to recharge their batteries, but these are easy and fun ways to incorporate some good money lessons in between afternoons at the beach or playing video games. If your kids are like mine, they will soon start looking for more ways to earn money so they can do more fun things.