Although we wish kids could live completely stress-free, play-filled lives, if we want them to grow up to live stress-free (or at least relatively so) lives as adults, we have to teach them financial responsibility. There are many simple ways to make money management fun for kids: it’s also important that money management stays interesting and exciting, so that kids will never fear budgeting.
Hands-on work with the kids by giving them allowances for chores and good behavior and then introducing an envelope system of budgeting (where they put percentages of their allowance into a savings envelope, a gifts envelope, a giving envelope, a spending envelope, etc.) will make money management real for kids.
But there are many, amazing books out there to help kids understand money. By reading to your kids about money, you will not only introduce ideas about financial responsibility that maybe you hadn’t thought of telling your kids yourself, but you will also make the kids feel like they are a part of something: all their favorite literary characters also save and manage money–the kids are not alone in this task their guardians have set.
1. One Cent, Two Cents, Old Cent, New Cent: All About Money (Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library) by Bonnie Worth
This book is a great place to start reading to your kids about money. It not only teaches some key values about money, but also the history of money, up to current use. Bartering, and what tools would be used for bartering (shells, beads, textiles) are introduced. In the age of credit cards, this will fascinate as well as educate kids.
2. The Oxcart Man by Donald Hall
A classic, beloved tale, this Caldecott Medal awardee will instantly become a favorite with your kids. At first, it might look unrelatable: the story of a farmer and his family who work all year to gather produce and make products such as homespun wool to take to town to sell–once a year.
But this book is more than just the story of a time gone by. It is a story about a family working together to provide for themselves. Each of the family members pitches in with their particular skill set to help the whole family.
3. The Berenstain Bears And Mama’s New Job by Jan and Stan Berenstain
Similarly, The Berenstain Bears And Mama’s New Job will also teach kids about a family working together to stay financially responsible. This one, however, is a little less abstract. Many kids will actually be able to empathize with Sister and Brother bear, as many kids’ moms start going back to work.
4. Lemonade In Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money by Emily Jenkins
This adorable little story, from kids’ perspectives, will inspire kids to not only be responsible with money management, but also to be entrepreneurs. Kids are not at the financial mercy of adults, even in this day and age. Kids can be innovative and creative (of course, employing the help of adults at some point) to achieve their personal financial goals.
5. Bunny Money by Rosemary Wells
Recognizable through the TV show, Max and Ruby, your kids will love reading about how their favorite characters learn about money. Max and Ruby go on one of their typical, adorable adventures and learn about money management along the way. Trying to buy the perfect gifts for grandma (Max’s interpretation of “perfect” being precious and hilarious), the two bunnies learn about how to spend money carefully as well as considerately.
You can never introduce financial responsibility too early. Kids want to replicate adult life (playing “house,” pretending to drive cars, pretending to shop), so why not make money management fun and engaging? Through reading about finances, kids can feel like they are not alone in these early stages of learning. They will have their favorite characters with them to inspire them. They will want to emulate their heroes.
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