Usually, paying bills is one of those adult chores that takes time away from family time. It doesn’t have to be that way, though! Getting your kids involved in the family finances can let you take care of your responsibilities and spend time with your children at the same time. It’s easy to say “get your kids involved,” but getting them out of their phones, tablets, and video games for dinner is hard enough. Making financial fitness a game can help it be more of a fun activity and less of a chore. Try these tips to get kids involved in money matters:
1.) The memory game: If you’ve ever played the card game, “Memory,” you know how this works. Put the bills you’re working with face down on the table, then go through each category – ask your child to find the electric bill, then read off the amount to you so you can write the check. This can also be a chance to talk with your child about savings strategies – “What do you think we could do to lower the electric bill?” While they may not have a firm grasp on the solution, getting them thinking about savings early will help build good habits.
2.) The party budget: The next time you’re hosting a sleepover or planning a family activity, set a budget with dollar amounts and walk through the steps involved in setting priorities, allocating funds, and finding cheaper alternatives to expensive activities. Let your child make the decisions as much as possible. Even if it’s $20 that they have to allocate between pizza, movies, and candy, it’ll help them understand the basics of budgeting. This exercise helps your child understand scarce resources and can make it easier to include them in family budget talks.
3.) Play “What If”: Ask your kids questions like what they would do if they found incrementally larger quantities of money. Start with a small amount – $5, for example. Work your way on up to $1,000 or whatever point your child starts to struggle with thinking of the dollar amount in real terms. This can be a great way to get to know where your kids’ financial priorities are at and to start a conversation about saving a portion of financial windfalls. It can also be a great way to talk about what things really cost.