“If You Give a Mouse a Budget…” and Other Ways Not to Teach Kids About Money

Part of my job is coming up with fun ways to teach kids about money. The other part of my job is researching what works… and what doesn’t.

If I can be honest, there’s a lot of boring financial advice out there. Some of it is downright soul-sucking. “Needs vs. wants,” “Always compare interest rates,” “Pay yourself first…” It’s all good on paper, but it’s not practical and it’s super uninteresting. And it certainly doesn’t speak to the needs of kids – toddlers, teens and twenty-somethings alike.

So if you have a kid, a niece or nephew, or a younger sibling and you want to teach them how to handle their finances (heck, if you want to help your BFF or your mom manage their money better), keep this in mind.

1. Don’t Start With a Budget.

You can’t force someone to keep a budget. Heck, I can barely keep a budget. So don’t force someone to start learning about money with a budget. It just doesn’t work. Start with what they care about and talk about the details later.

2. Keep it Real, But Keep it Fun and Flexible.

Kids are fun, creative and brilliant creatures. So are adults, if you give them a chance. And everyone has different and unique financial needs. So if you’re helping someone with their money, give them the creative license to discover what matters to them. Don’t just someone who spends $500 a month on shoes or a kid who wants to save up for an inflatable dinosaur. To each his own.

3. Make Room for Cookies.

It’s great to save up for what’s important in life, but sometimes you just gotta splurge on a treat. Plan for the future, but don’t forget to indulge a little in the present 🙂

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