Teaching Children About Money - Los Angeles,CA

Updated on September 15, 2016
N.Z. asks from Los Angeles, CA
15 answers

I have a four year old and wondering when is a good age to start? And what's a good approach?

What my four year old knows about money is pretty minimal -- just that money is needed to buy things, coins and paper bills are money, and that sometimes cards can be used to make purchases.

What can I do next?

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answers from Washington DC on

when mine were five they started getting an allowance. They were paid for the chores they did around the house.

$5 a week. $1 was put in savings, $1 was charity and $3 was to spend. When they realized $3 wouldn't get them much they started savings for things they wanted.

They realized that money didn't grow on trees or magically appear out of mommy or daddy's wallet. They learned that things cost money. You keep it simple.

6 moms found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

I believe it is an ongoing topic for conversation and education.

We had the play cash registers and money. Daughter loved those games.
We played Monopoly and any other game that had a "banker" or something to do with money.
I used grocery store trips for education as well.. I'd ask daughter to get a specific number of items, we would weigh items, look at the price and double it, etc. Start small and make it fun then add to the "game" at age appropriate levels.

When I was in the classroom, the children brought specified amount of coins from home that were kept in their special baggie for money play. This was in 1st grade. We would write a price on the board and see how many ways they could come up with the correct price.

Another things to add... we have taught our daughter that debt is evil. Of course there are times when you get a loan for a house or something like that but overall... using credit cards and not paying in full, etc is BAD. Delayed gratification is something we have taught as well.

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answers from Beaumont on

I think education, on every level, is an ongoing process. I still talk to my teenagers, on some aspect of money every day. The latest topic is getting a car that you can afford and not some hot rod! :)

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I started when my older was 7 and younger was 3. We started because the day after Christmas (literally), my older came to me and said that since Santa didn't bring XXX gift, he wanted me to buy it (it was something expensive). At that moment, I realized my child had no real concept of what things cost and that $ is limited. So, together we looked online and saw the cost of what he wanted. He added up the $ he got for Christmas from relatives. It wasn't enough. He asked how to get more money, and I said that everyone has to earn money. We made up a list of things he could do around the house to earn money. It took him months, but he was proud of himself when he bought the item.

I also started narrating things that I do. For example, saying out loud at the ATM "The bank holds my money. I need to check how much is in there before we go to the store, because I can only buy things at the store if there is enough money in my account to pay for them." Even if I didn't really need to check my balance, sometimes I did so that my child would understand that credit/debit cards aren't unlimited money.

My younger understand it better at a younger age, because he hears me talking about it with his brother. And last year (ages 5 and 9), they again didn't get a big-ticket item they asked for at Christmas. They pooled their money and worked together for 6 months doing chores to get the item them wanted.

So, IMO, it's not too early to start helping a child connect the ideas about money, what things cost, and that money doesn't grow on trees.

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answers from Washington DC on

i don't think it's something that necessary has to wait for a certain age before 'teaching' about it. like most of life's topics, this one arose naturally and kept getting added to as they grew.
i don't know if board games are something families today even play, but we did lots of it. monopoly and life were staples when my boys were growing up. they also got an allowance that was tied to chores (a hot topic, i know) and had the opportunity to earn extra money for doing above-and-beyond chores.
coins are a barrel of fun for four year olds. sorting, counting, and then learning how to count in denominations is a delightful challenge for most little people, at least if it's presented as such, and not as a lesson they have to grind through.

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answers from Portland on

When mine were little, they sometimes played store. We'd act it out - they'd pretend to buy some cookies from me, etc.

They have one of those old Fisher Price cash registers too.

When they were 4, 5 and 6 or so if they bought something at the store - some little treat say - we'd let them hand the cashier money. Just to get them used to it and counting it out.

Around that age (maybe a bit older) sometimes they would get money for a gift. So they'd bring their money to the store and we let them pick out something - keeping in mind how much it cost, so they got the idea of how much things were and you had to have enough to cover it.

We don't do a typical allowance. My kids' chores and extra jobs go towards things they want (like cell phones). But when mine were little if they helped me do a chore like wash the car, or something, we'd give them some money for their piggy bank.

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answers from Los Angeles on

My kids usually came along with me while I shopped. We talked about how much things cost, how we earn money, how we decide what to spend money on...the more they understood then the more I explained. When we went out to eat or for entertainment we talked about how much it cost. We played with play money when they were little. As they got older they had lemonade stands and helped with family garage sales. I give an allowance, they receive money as gifts and they earn money doing various odd jobs. We often talk about budgeting and saving. Anyway, I don't think four is too early to start learning about money.

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answers from New York on

It sounds like you're off to a great start!

Two extra thoughts: I think a tricky thing about actually putting a child "in charge of" any amount of money (for example, giving an allowance) is establishing boundaries - a parent needs to decide to what extent the parent has veto power over what the child attempts to purchase with that money. Also, at a certain point it will be good to teach your child about the concepts of "debt" and "loans" and things like that (which can be done by, for example, giving an advance payment on an allowance, etc).

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answers from Abilene on

Dave Ramsey has a series of kids books that are readers. You might check that out. We used that for our son. Our kids earn money through working (mowing, jobs in our businesses, helping their grandparents do their yard or deep cleaning).

My son (12 years old) decided he wanted a gaming computer and researched it and decided to build it himself. He worked hard with the goal of earning enough to build it by summer's end. He was successful and he is proud of his accomplishments. He's also saved enough other money to purchase a 73 charger that he and his dad are going to rebuild. He said if he starts now, maybe he will have it done by 16. He's watched his sister work for saving her half of her car and knows time passes quickly. It helps that his dad is passionate about building old cars so he has a lot of knowledge and tools to help this dream along.

I've told my kids from about 3rd grade up that I will not work harder for something they want than they are willing to work.

Hard work is good. Pride in ownership comes from hard work.

You will do a great job!

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answers from Norfolk on

We don't do an allowance - and my husband and I didn't have allowances when we were growing up either.

First off - everyone helps with house hold chores as a function of living here.
The reward for cleaning your own toilet is - you get to use a clean toilet!

Second - giving a kid a fixed income/allowance can sometimes give a kid a sense of entitlement that just grates on every last nerve I have.

Third - an allowance is just training up good little consumers who have NO CONCEPT how HARD it is to earn that money before they get addicted to spending it.

Our son gets to keep gift money and he's always been very good with feeding his piggy bank.
He pinches a penny till it bleeds - that makes us very happy.
For good grades and good behavior and helping out with what ever needs doing - I never tell him 'No' at the book store - I pay for what ever he wants to read - and he reads A LOT.
It's his favorite thing - and besides new books - we also get used books - he likes saving money that way - it means he can get more books!

If our son wants something and needs to earn money - he can do yard chores for neighbors, walk dogs, babysit, or get a job - this will let him know how hard earning money is - and it makes him think twice about what he wants to spend it on.

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answers from Wausau on

My kids' first practical money interaction was in the grocery store. Able to read independently and do basic add/subtract. This was mostly to keep them interested and occupied, the educational aspect was a bonus. They would help find items on the shelves, match up coupons to brands, and eventually be able to figure out which was the best deal by price/size/brand.

You start when it seems appropriate and to each child's ability. :-)

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answers from Boston on

I'd start with a toy cash register which includes play money and credit cards (although the latter are of dubious value to a child). We always had a grocery set with a cash register, a pretend scanner, toy food and so on. Grocery stores are the places most kids are familiar with. You can buy extra play money (bills and coins) in any toy store. You can make up prices now and later on you can start with basic addition (don't do that now). You can also save some of your boxes from the recycling bin (cereal and pasta boxes, for example).

Playing board games with money is also fun. Monopoly is too much now, but look for some junior versions of games.

You can also use the "pizza" method that teachers use for different things. Make a "pizza" out of sturdy card stock and draw a $1 symbol in it. Make some additional wedges with 25 cents on them and a picture of a quarter. 4 quarter sized wedges can be laid on the main pizza cutout, and still make a whole pizza and therefore a whole dollar. You can do the same with a pizza cut into 10 slices for dimes, and a child can mix/match 5 dimes and 2 quarters to still make a whole $1 "pizza." You could also use craft foam or have the card stock laminated at any print shop. I'd use different colors for the different size wedges. You could make several sets and then the child could have, say, $2.50 with 2 whole pizzas and 2 quarter wedges. Then build from them with $10 bills or $20 bills as he gets better with more numbers.

I used this method to teach music - a whole pizza = a whole note, 2 halves = 2 half notes, quarter notes and 8th notes, same thing. Kids learned that if a measure of music had 4 beats, there were multiple ways to make up that 4 beats (4 quarter notes, a half & 2 quarters, 8 8th notes, a half and a quarter and 2 8th notes, etc.). That also reinforced fractions that they learned in their math class.

If you recycle your bottles, have your child help with that at the redemption center. I know it's a pain and usually I just curb recycle mine, but when my son was younger, he was in charge of that. He thought $1.25 was a huge deal, you know? If the machine gives change, you can help him exchange that for quarters and dollars.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

No need to start right away. Four, they are barely verbally counting to 20 and actually understanding what that means.

Some kids like to 'play' money. Some will make "money" with bits of paper, or pretend that other objects are 'money'.

I'm a big fan of 'they learn when they lead'... that is, she will learn about it as she asks you questions. At this age, she doesn't need money for anything except a penny to throw in a fountain!

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answers from Chicago on

One way to start is buy fake money. A friend of mine bought a couple sets of fake money (bills and coins) and had her kids buy things in the house with the money. Also, let the child buy things at the store. I let my kids buy an orange or similar, or an item at the convenience store or handle their birthday money themselves. I actually had more trouble getting them to wait for their change than to understand what money is for and how to use it at age 4 and 5. It does take time but starts building up as they get older.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

He'll learn about money in school some so I wouldn't expect him to remember everything. Let him help pay sometimes. IF there isn't anyone behind you. Cute, a kid is learning about money...hurry UP!

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