Ways That Kids Can Learn Money Management Skills

Rising student loan debt among young people has underscored the current need to teach children money management skills at a young age. Conscientious parents are exploring educational options for children of all ages that can help them to learn basic money management skills that will help them to succeed in the real world.

Even children as young as five years old can participate in businesslike activities that can help them learn how to budget finances. The proverbial lemonade stand, for instance, is an age-old tradition among young entrepreneurs who want to earn a bit of spending cash.

Although lemonade stands are no longer commonly seen gracing residential street corners, the basic economic principle remains the same. Providing goods and/or services to a willing market in a way that produces a profit is the basic premise of capitalism and one of the first economic lessons that every young person should learn.

Other ways for young people to earn money is to set up a small business performing yard chores for neighborhood residents such as cutting grass, raking leaves and snow removal. Young people with a special aptitude such as math, languages or working with computers can go into business for themselves as professional tutors. Babysitting is another option.

Easy-to-understand budgeting software exists that can help children learn the basics of balancing a ledger. Plenty of books have been written on the subject as well, and for younger children, games are available that can help them begin to get a grasp on what money is and how it works.

Children over a certain age who do not wish to start their own businesses can always get part-time jobs during the summer and after school and use the money earned to develop financial management skills. No matter how the income is derived, the young person should be encouraged to open both a checking and a savings account. It should not stop there, however.

Because plastic is such a big part of the way modern adult consumers choose to handle their finances, children should have the opportunity to learn to respect plastic. Many adults are in disadvantageous financial situations because they didn’t quite view plastic as real money, and it became something that was easy for them to spend but difficult to repay.

As mentioned earlier, using a prepaid card is kind of like putting training wheels on a bicycle. Because only money that the card contains can be used for purchases, it is impossible for those using these cards to fall into debt. These cards are easily obtained and are even carried in some grocery stores. They can be bought in a variety of amounts, so even small children with limited budgets can find one to suit their needs.

By learning the value of work, developing budgeting skills and realizing the importance of treating plastic like the real money that it is, the upcoming generation will hopefully not fall prey to the same sorts of fiscal mistakes that have plagued proceeding generations.

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Little Feet Cost Big Money

They say that having kids is expensive.  Which is definitely true.  But, I never realized how much one particular aspect was really expensive.  So much that I think when you calculate all the big costs (college, food, clothing), it should have it’s own line item.


Yikes, was I surprised when Mrs. Beagle informed me that she had to go shoe shopping for the kids, and the bill for one pair of shoes came in at almost fifty bucks!

We want to get shoes that are good and durable for everyday use, and that also offer the proper support and fit for growing feet.  We’ve found that if we buy shoes from Target or WalMart, they don’t match all of those criteria.

Either they don’t fit right or they start falling apart within days or something else.

Even so, I was surprised when we got Stride Rite shoes for Little Girl Beagle and the bill was nearly fifty dollars.  When Mrs. Beagle asked what I had expected to pay, I thought about and said, “Probably around thirty bucks”

I guess I figured the cheaper shoes would probably be around $15-20 and more expensive shoes would be around $30 or so.

I guess I was a little off!

We are always on top of sales, and unfortunately one that we weren’t on this year was the Stride Rite outlet store sale, where you can get your second pair of shoes at 50% if you buy a pair at regular price.

We’ve done this before when we were just buying shoes for Little Boy Beagle, and would either get him two different types of shoes around his current size, or would buy a larger size with the half off pair in anticipation of his feet growing.

Which they always do!

I guess I’m going to need to nudge up the clothing budget even further as these little feet grow.

Have you been surprised by the cost of kids shoes?  Do you have any tips for saving money on kids shoes?

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And Already It Starts

Our (almost) thirteen month old daughter has an obsession that can only mean trouble to my wallet down the road:


She loves them.

She ignores most of the toys, and instead will walk/crawl to the laundry room where we have the shoe caddy.  She’ll find hers and will sit and cry until someone puts them on her feet.

Then, she’ll stay there, taking everybody else’s shoes down and throwing them into a big pile.

Shoes are her thing.

At thirteen months.


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You Can Do It

Little Boy Beagle will be three in just over three months.  He learns new things all the time and tries something new every day.

A lot of the things he tries don’t always work, or even if they do work, they aren’t consistent.

As he works on conquering new things, he would take pride in an accomplishment, but if something didn’t go right, he would often get exasperated and say:

“I can’t do it.”

After hearing this more than a few times, I tried to turn it around.  If he would have a problem with something that I knew was within his realm of possibility, and he’d say he couldn’t do it, I’d go over and say

“You CAN do it”

and would then try to help him with whatever he was doing, showing him how to do it, working with him to get it, and encouraging him to try again on his own.

You Can Do It Lake Huron Beach Oscoda Trip 9-25-09 16
by stevendepolo, on Flickr

While not everything worked the next time he tried, after I started telling him that he CAN do it, I noticed that:

  • Many times, he would try more than once before giving up.
  • He said “I can’t do it” a lot less, even when he couldn’t.
  • He actually started telling others “You can do it” if he heard someone give up.

All of these things are pretty cool, and if a two and a half year old can get it, I think we can all learn that lesson.

If you fail at setting a budget, don’t just give up and say you can do it.  Tell yourself that you can do it and start over again.  And, as my son learned, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Work at it hard enough, and soon you’ll not only be doing it where you once thought you couldn’t, but you’ll be the one providing encouragement and advice moving forward.

So, find something you think you can’t do.  Tell yourself “I can’t do it”.

Then stop and say: “I CAN do it”

Then, go give it a try.  You might just surprise yourself…

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