Apr 21, 2022

The school year may be winding down, but kids don’t have to be in class to learn how to be “savvy savers.” You can help them establish good habits and learn how to save in order to reach their goals.

Teaching the value of a dollar is challenging in a digital world. Start by going back to basics: teach kids how to manage coins and cash, then help them translate learning to the virtual world.

  • Younger kids can pick up valuable math skills by counting coins and keeping track of piggy bank savings. If they don’t earn an allowance yet, consider starting one. Besides math skills, kids can learn the concept of working for money and build self-reliance in the process.
    • Start small and add responsibilities as they grow.
    • Help little ones set small goals: (like saving for an inexpensive toy or treat) and larger goals (like saving for a new game).
    • Ask if they’re willing to chip in when they ask for new gadgets. This will get them to start thinking about whether some “wants” are worth it.

  • Middle grade learners can grasp more advanced skills, like evaluating coupons and discounts. They can flex their critical thinking skills by comparing offers or evaluating deals. For example, is it worth buying three items at $4 each to save $.50? This is also the time to help them elevate their savings goals.
    • Teach negotiation skills by letting kids make a case for a higher allowance for bigger chores or responsibilities.
    • Help them set their own budgets for “fun money” vs. larger savings goals.
    • Offer to go in 50/50 on big-ticket items they want.
    • Teach them more about household budgets. You could let them pick a profession, research the average salary, and plan how much they would set aside for savings and how much they could spend on groceries, housing, car, insurance and utilities.

  • High school and college kids can go even farther. They might need a checking account along with their savings account. And with that, a lesson in how to manage ATMs and debit cards responsibly. Older teens and young adults should also learn:
    • About interest rates, credit scores and saving for emergencies.
    • How to evaluate credit card offers.
    • The value of paying off purchases quickly vs. making minimum payments.
    • How to set big savings goals, like saving for a car or college expenses.

All ages can benefit from a savings account: look for a kid-focused savings account without monthly fees. Then review monthly statements together to watch savings grow — and how spending added up. Help them use mobile apps to keep track of their account as they become savvier savers.

Where to get started? Children ages 5 to 14 can sign up for Cinfed’s Rockstar Saver Program, with prizes, tips and contests help reinforce their habits. Young adults and parents can expand their money know-how on many topics with quick online courses at our Financial Education Center.