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What kid wants to just be lectured about money? Oh, I know the answer to that one – none!! So how can we teach these little bundles of joy about money? I’m glad you asked. I suggest we do it with games, gifts, technology, and life application. While I don’t have any children of my own, I am an aunt. Furthermore, I’m determined to help teach my niece and nephews how to be wise stewards of their money.
Teaching Kids About Money
I have a finite amount of time with my niece and nephews so I make the most of these opportunities. When I take them for an adventure day with Auntie Dee, I have the ability to teach them how to manage their money for the day. They want to spend it all so I talk to them about setting some aside to save in the bank. I turn it into a game of whoever comes home with the most amount of money wins.
Additionally, I limit the amount of stuff I buy them for birthdays and Christmas. I’ve found a unique way to give them money and experiences.
Furthermore, I recently discovered that certain games are a great tool to get them thinking about money decisions.
The Game of Life
I recently spent the weekend with my 8-year-old niece and 7-year-old nephew. My nephew asked me to play the game of life with him. It had been years since I’ve played it so I read the instructions first. I quickly saw that it is a great game for teaching the little tots to think about money decisions.
Firstly, it says ages 8 and up but my nephew just turned 7 and did just fine.
This link gives detailed instructions on how to play the game. I’ll just give a broad brush here. With any game, there are different editions so I recommend following the instructions which come with your game. #protip
The object of the game is to collect the most amount of life tiles and retire with the most amount of money.
Choosing your life path off from the start
The game has you making a big decision right off the bat and that is whether or not you’d like to go to college. If you choose the college path, you take out a loan and pay out a hefty sum of money.
My nephew chose the college path and me the career path. My path had me collecting paychecks sooner; however, I had to choose a career which did not require a degree.
Making choices through the game
Each player takes turns spinning and moving along the board.
Every time you pass a payday, the banker pays you. If you happen to land on a payday square, you get a bonus. Additionally, you have to share how you’ve used your career skills to make the world a better place. I loved this as it really makes you think. My nephew, with his limited understanding of the skills developed in certain careers, needed some guidance.
Sometimes you come to a fork in the road where a decision must be made. All decisions come with consequences and associated costs.
Purchasing a home
When you land on a block to purchase a home, you choose two random house cards. Both cards include a description and a cost. Here is where I could really see the wheels turning in my nephew’s brain. He was acutely aware of how much money he had and thought about the cost of his two options. He chose the modest, lesser expensive house option and I was a proud auntie at that moment!! Hold onto that money, Cameron!
When my housing option came, I was torn. I drew two cards and both were very attractive to me:
- A farmhouse
- A beach shack
I reasoned out loud with my nephew that while the farmhouse provided more space and land, it also came with a higher price tag. Additionally, while the beach shack was much smaller, it was cheaper and came with an ocean front view. We both agreed that waking up each day to see the sunrise and swim in the ocean was pretty cool. I chose the latter.
I love that the game actually has a fork in the road where you can choose a riskier versus a safe path. Both my nephew and I chose the riskier path (high-risk tolerance run in the family) and faired well. However, we had the potential to lose a lot as we traversed over these squares towards retirement. I could see my nephew’s concern as he spun the dial and counted his move. Maybe just maybe, he’ll learn to balance that appetite for risk. I’m praying. 🙂
Who Was the winner?
My nephew one fair and square. He retired with a wife, three kids and $1.3 million in the bank. I retired with a husband, one kid, and $802 thousand in the bank.
I was fascinated by watching my nephew count his money often and make decisions based on what he had. Yes, it was driven by a desire to win the game. However, it was a nice way to introduce him to the concept of retiring with more money = winner, which is true in the game and reality of life.
As I mentioned before I don’t like showering my niece and nephews with stuff. They already have a lot of things and personally, I’ve found that more stuff reduces gratitude. Occasionally, I will buy them things but my most favorite gift is money and/or experiences!
Giving money creatively
Since I’m the giver of said money, I get to direct what they do with it. I’ve come up with a system where I pick an amount and divide it into three categories:
- Saving – 50%+ of the sum is for college or future savings
- Spending – 40% of the sum is for them to have fun with
- Giving – 10% of the sum is for them to give to a cause or someone in need
For the saving envelope, I write a check out to my brother as he’ll deposit it into their 529 accounts. The other two envelops are cash. I just started doing this gift for their birthdays this year. I learned that my niece chose to give her giving money to a mission trip with their church. I’ll be eager to learn how my nephew decides to give his giving fund.
Giving experiences creatively
Previously for Christmas, I’ve sent my niece and nephews on a scavenger hunt. Most likely I’ll repeat it this year with harder clues.
Their initial gift is a clue about where the next clue is. This will go on for several rounds.
Once they get to the final destination, they’ll open the actual gift which is a certificate for an adventure day with Auntie Dee. I might throw in a small gift but the bulk of the gift is a promise to hang out and do something fun. The anticipation builds and it sets the intention to save a full day for them.
While in the short run kids may like the thrill of getting new things, I believe in the long run they prefer spending quality time with us. The scavenger hunt is thrill enough!
Using technology to teach
The final thing I want to write on is using technology to kids about money. My boss uses an application called FamZoo. I personally have no experience with it but I’ve talked to my boss in how he is using it to teach his boys about money management. Apparently, when he tells his boys it is FamZoo time, they are engaged.
Additionally, I’ve checked out their site and it seems like a pretty cool product.
Here is a brief video:
FamZoo is a way to manage pre-paid cards for your kids. Once you’ve set up an account with FamZoo, you, as the guardian, set up a primary funding card and load money. The funding card is used to give different kinds of payments to your children.
Each family member can be given their own card. When the parents (or guardians) sign into their FamZoo account they can see everyone’s balance. Furthermore, they have the ability to move money between cards. When kids log into their FamZoo account they only see their balance and transactions.
If a child is under 13, the parent will be the legal card holder and parent’s name will be printed on the card. However, for children over 13, they will be the legal card owner.
Furthermore, family members can have multiple cards for different categories such as:
Let’s face it, kids are on their phones a lot anyway so why not utilize this app to teach kids about money?
It seems to me that these money lessons are successful because they embrace the following:
- Involve play
If we can give kids a safe place to make choices which have consequences, they’ll learn the true meaning of risk and reward. Moreover, they’ll become managers of their money and understand the three main things to do with it – save, spend & give!
How about you? How are you teaching the kids in your life about money?