Helping your kids to become financially literate doesn't have to be dull. At GoHenry, we know financial information is more likely to stick if you make it fun for younger kids and relevant for teens. So here are the best activities to help your kids become financially savvy:
Activities to teach financial literacy to kids: an overview
- Empower kids to make smart financial decisions
- Introduce kids to money-based games
- Get them involved with online financial literacy games
- Use shopping trips as an opportunity to discuss wants and needs
- Ask them to go shopping and look for the cheapest items on the list
- Get them a prepaid debit card
- Have them help you plan spending and budgeting
- Introduce them to the concept of investing
- Get them started making money with a part-time job
- Encourage them to use online financial activities
- Bonus: Have them explore GoHenry’s in-app Money Missions
Related: Guide on Financial literacy for kids
Empower kids to make smart financial decisions
A recent Yahoo article discusses how a lack of financial literacy education costs Americans billions of dollars. According to the same article, nearly one-third of adults have no savings and are unprepared for a financial emergency.
Empowering kids to make smart financial decisions for life is more essential than ever. Louise Hill, co-founder and COO of GoHenry, agrees: "While it can be daunting to approach financial literacy, the sooner you can teach your kids about money and help them understand the wider financial picture, the more future-proof they will be."
The reality is all kids need a solid financial education to help them navigate the challenges of their future: from paying off their student debt to understanding taxes and even buying their first home. Money confidence comes from helping them fine-tune a range of practical financial skills, from saving and spending to budgeting and investing.
Introduce kids to money-based games
According to a recent PBS publication, money habits are set by the age of seven, which means that parents have the real power to foster financial literacy at home. With younger children, what helps are money-based games for kids.
As play is one of the main ways younger kids learn and develop, it’s worth finding money games that appeal to your child. Younger children may prefer an app-based game like Toca Life World, while older pre-teens may prefer board games that help teach kids about money like Game of Life or a video game like Minecraft.
You can also create your own games as incorporating money ‘lessons’ into everyday life is fun – and easier than you think.
Louise suggests: "If you're taking kids to the store, use it as an opportunity to talk about wants and needs. There are many simple ways to do that and bring that to life for children so that it's meaningful without having to go into complicated details. One approach could be asking youngsters to choose between a well-known brand and an own brand and explaining the difference between money saved."
Get them involved with online financial literacy games for kids and teens
Another great way to get kids and teens involved in financial learning is with online games. Most teens are already immersed in the online world, so meet them in a familiar environment and show them that learning about money can be fun and rewarding.
Explore online financial literacy games for your kids from the list below:
- Peter Pig’s Money Counter
- Mint Pals’ Counting With Coins
- Cash Puzzler
- Balancing Your Checking Account
- Credit Clash
- Hit the Road
- Financial Football
- The Uber Game
- Money Magic Game
- The Payoff Game
- Build Your Stax
- Time for Payback
Get them a prepaid debit card
Giving regular allowance on a GoHenry kids debit card is a great way to teach financial literacy. Start by giving your child a set sum each week and asking them to use this to buy what they need and want.
With older kids, introduce budgeting (can they make their allowance last all week without asking for more?) and saving (are they able to delay gratification for a few weeks to buy those much-wanted sneakers?). Activities like these will help them to build smarter money habits.
You could also create ways for older kids to earn their allowance (or more money) with tasks such as helping around the house, cleaning their room, doing their homework and walking the dog.
"Many parents say their child's behavior has changed since using the GoHenry card. They suddenly want to do chores around the house to earn more money to buy something, or they change their mind about how much they 'desperately' want something when they realize it will wipe out that entire week's [allowance]. It introduces them to the decisions they will have to make as adults but in a safe environment."
Louise Hill, co-founder and COO of GoHenry
Have them help you plan spending & budgeting
As life is becoming even more cashless, coins and bills can easily confuse children and teens. So another good financial activity is getting kids comfortable with handling money and budgeting money when you are out and about shopping.
With younger children, show them how money is used when you're in the supermarket and let them pay for items and collect the change. Also, explain that money must be earned before it can be spent and doesn't just come out of an ATM whenever you need it.
With older kids, talk to them about budgeting and saving. For example:
- Needs versus wants and the benefits of budgeting and saving for something they want.
- Ask them to go shopping and look for the cheapest items on the list to see how much they can save.
- Pros of cash, coins and bills: you know exactly how much you’re spending; handing over cash makes you think harder about purchases, so it's easier to save money.
Introduce them to the concept of investing
Talking about how you earn and save and make the best long-term investments is a great way to inspire your children. A great way to introduce children to investments is with a game such as Monopoly. This teaches kids about using money to invest in property and the returns they can make.
Also, look at GoHenry’s very own in-app Money Missions. This collection of interactive games is a fun way for children aged 6-18 to learn about investing, compound interest, and more.
Related: Teaching kids about investing
Get them started making money with a part-time job
Alongside this, inspire kids’ entrepreneurial spirit with a part-time job, as this is also a fantastic way to increase financial literacy around more complex financial lessons, such as earning especially for teens.
Our latest GoHenry Youth Economy Report shows that more than one-fourth of kids in the US (27%) are now making money from investing in cryptocurrency, and more than a third of American kids and teens (34%) are currently earning from selling things on online marketplaces such as Etsy, eBay, Depop and Vinted.
These ventures can inspire all kinds of bigger financial conversations and discussions around low-risk investments (banks and GoHenry) and high-risk investments (cryptocurrency and NFTs), pricing, interest rates and tax on earnings.
Encourage them to use online financial activities
There are countless online financial activities you can find for your kids and teens designed for all ages and interests. Consider online financial activities with a theme that interests your child, or create a fun family learning experience where you check out new games and activities. Some online financial activities to choose from include:
These financial literacy activities based on the popular Shark Tank TV show teach kids important lessons about business and entrepreneurship. Middle and high school students can practice skills like building their own business plan and learning more about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
Check out Building Wealth’s tools and resources for students learning how to create wealth for their future. Explore different interactive forms to calculate net worth, set financial goals, plan your investment strategy, and more.
EconEd collects a variety of financial literacy activities that aim to teach kids how the economy works. Learn key concepts about money in activities or play games that teach economic topics like trade and money management.
Finance in the Classroom offers financial literacy activities for younger kids and teens. This activity library holds games that teach essential topics like recognizing money for younger kids and practicing a budget for teens.
Find educational resources for kids as young as pre-k through college on the St. Louis Federal website. Articles, online activities, and information about local events are available by grade level.
CFPB lists many great resources for educating kids about financial literacy. Check out different lesson ideas and scenarios you can review with your child to practice their money skills in real-life situations.
Have them explore GoHenry’s in-app Money Missions
In the GoHenry app, you’ll find Money Missions to help kids learn everything they need to know about finances. Money Missions are designed to make financial education fun, building confidence, literacy, and curiosity in 6-18-year-olds. Kids can watch animated videos, take quizzes and earn points and badges as they progress through the levels. Above all, whatever financial literacy activities you choose to do always make them relevant to your kids’ lives because this will spark your child's interest in financial literacy and keep them learning for life.