By Kathleen Kraninger, Director, U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Whether or not you’re teaching your children about money and finances on purpose, they’re absorbing everything you do and say. For instance, when you shop for a bargain, splurge on a treat, or plan a special occasion, you’re showing children how you think about money.
Research shows that attitudes, skills, and habits around money develop early. Children younger than five can’t grasp abstract financial concepts, but they can still develop fundamental skills they’ll need as adults: patience, planning ahead, prioritizing, distinguishing between needs and wants, counting and sorting, sticking to a task or activity, and keeping important things safe.
Even if you don’t feel like a “money expert,” you can help children build these basic skills that will serve them in many ways over a lifetime. You can even do this during everyday routines such as:
- Sharing stories. To build problem-solving, flexible thinking, and awareness of needs versus wants, notice when the characters didn’t get what they wanted at first. Ask children what they might do if that happened to them.
- Grocery shopping. Ask children to help you make shopping lists so they notice how you plan ahead for what your family needs. Then they can help you cross off the items when you find them in the store.
- Playing games. Simple games such as Musical Chairs or Simon Says can help children focus and make quick decisions. Guessing games like 20 Questions or I Spy can help children exercise their memories and think critically and creatively.
Many parents and caregivers believe that a healthy relationship with money and finances can help children’s future dreams come true. Resources like Money as You Grow from the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (English | Spanish) can support you in building this relationship, with activities and conversation starters that pave the way to wise money management in adulthood!