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When to teach children about money, and how?

I want to teach my son financial literacy as soon as it’s best for him to grasp the concept. He’s 16 months old currently. I’ve got three questions: 1. What are some signs to look for that it’s the right time for him to start? I don’t want to start too young or too late. 2. What are your recommendations for techniques and reading materials? 3. Perhaps more pressingly: what are your recommendations to self-teach myself financial literacy, so I can be more effective when I teach him? I’d also love to hear your special tips if you work in finance or if you’ve done/did this!

  • Anonymous
    Jan 07

    We started with a piggy bank!

  • Rachel
    Jan 07

    there are cartoon books about economy!

  • Amanda
    Jan 07

    My parents used a strategy that I feel like was really effective (and still is in my adult life today!) My siblings and I each had three jars (later turned into bank accounts): the first jar was for "spending," the second jar was for "saving," and the third jar was for "giving." When we would receive our allowance, we would put money into each jar. We were allowed to use the "spend" jar immediately for whatever toy or item we wanted at the item, and then the "save" jar ultimately became our teenage savings account (used by most of my siblings for a down payment on a first car), and the "giving" jar went towards a charity of our choice (for example, one of my siblings was really into animals as a child so my parents encouraged her to give to the local Humane Society.) Today as an adult, I still use the spend/save/give method and it works wonders!

  • Diana
    Jan 08

    When my child was just over a year, I made a point to have cash on me for purchases and she would take the money from me to give to the teller. Once she was a little older, I’d have her count two dollar bills (at the grocery store they were usually 20’s, but I didn’t make the distinction yet) and two coins, etc. Then (even though inconvenient for me), I brought her to the physical bank branch and made a cash deposit and explained that with a check (how I pay her daycare), that’s me giving permission for her teacher to take the money out of the bank. Similar explanation for credit cards (I’ve added that sometimes you have to pay a little extra for the convenience of a credit card which will later lead to talk about interest when she gets older). I also explain that utilities (like water and electricity) cost money and point out the electric line going from the telephone pole to the house. And how we pay for gas for the car, etc. Basically, at this point, I want her to have an idea of what money is and how it’s used (and why mommy has to go to work each day to earn money). Then we’ll focus on the idea of budgets, interest, investments, etc when she’s older (and can count!)

  • Momof2
    Jan 08

    I am working on learning financial tips myself. There are lots of podcasts. I have been listening to choose FI podcast and like it.

  • Sarah
    Jan 11

    My son has had a bank account almost since birth and we take him to deposit his money after he gets it for birthdays & such. We’ve also let him help with sliding credit cards or giving cash when checking out and put a dollar in the basket at church. He’s obsessed with “money” as he says, which pretty much means he just wants to go to the store. Not quite understanding it at age 2 but he’ll get there.