Teaching Your Children About Money: From Preschool through the Teen Years

By Selena Garrison, MS, Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences, University of Florida
Reviewed by Michael Gutter, PhD, Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences, University of Florida

As parents, one of our main jobs is to teach our children the things they need to know to live a responsible, productive life. This includes teaching them how to manage money. Some of us might be really comfortable with this role, but for others, it may seem overwhelming. Thankfully, there are all kinds of resources available to help us in this area!

Research shows that children learn about money from watching their parents and practicing handling money on their own. In addition, children who are regularly included in discussions about using the family income learn how to make financial decisions of their own. Depending on the age of your child, there are many different ways to get them involved in learning about money.


At this age, children learn by doing, not just talking! To start teaching your child about money at this age, allow them to make simple financial decisions. Take your child to the store and allow them to choose from several items (for instance, they might choose between several small toys at the dollar store). Once they have chosen what they want, allow them to hand the money to the clerk. Not only have they made a simple decision, but they have also spent money.

Elementary Age Children

At this age, kids are beginning to understand limited resources! While they won’t mind spending your money, they may want to hoard their own! This is a good time to start teaching them about wise spending and saving. One option is to look for a piggy bank that is divided into sections for saving, spending, and donating. You can also open a savings account for them at a local bank or credit union and have them deposit their savings. This gives them a great head start on good savings and banking habits.

Pre-teens and Teenagers

Your children are now at an age when they want and need to decide how to spend their money. A great idea is to have your child create their own spending plan. Instead of “paying” them for good grades, chores well done, or good behavior, give them an allowance based on the amount of money you would normally spend on their needs. Next, have them budget it out to meet those needs. If they run out of money (and they probably will the first time around!), they will learn to budget better the next time.

Providing our children with the opportunity to handle money and make (and learn from) financial mistakes while they are young will give them a great foundation. By giving our children a great start in learning financial management, we can be confident that they will know how to handle their money when the day comes for them to be out on their own.

(Photo credit: SAKURAKO gets money from a cash register by MIKI Yoshihito. CC BY 2.0. Cropped.)

Further Reading

Children and Money–from UF-IFAS EDIS


Gutter, M. S., Garrison, S., & Copur, Z. (2010). Social learning opportunities and the financial behaviors of college students. Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, 38(4), 387-404.


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Posted: July 22, 2014

Category: Money Matters, Relationships & Family, Work & Life
Tags: Parenting, Personal And Family Finances

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